Inspire helps hundreds of individuals with various disabilities ranging from those on the autism spectrum to persons with profound multiple learning difficulties and others through educational and therapeutic programs and leisure services.
In order to be able to reach out to support the wider population, Inspire teamed up with the University of Bath to work on the development of the second phase of an app called SOFA (Stories online for Autism) that had been developed by the Centre of Applied Autism Research (CAAR) in collaboration with the autistic community. The aim behind the SOFA app is to help children on the autism spectrum to understand what is socially acceptable behavior and what is not through the use of stories that give examples of appropriate behavior, also helping these children to prepare for events/situations that are not the normal routine. The app itself helps the user create appropriately structured social stories on-line that can be used by children and individuals on the spectrum.
Seeing the potential of this app, Inspire wanted to be involved in making it accessible to more people by launching a free mobile version suitable for both Android and iOS devices as well as adding new features and functionalities. This was made possible through funding provided by Epic which Inspire successfully applied for in February 2018 under the ‘Connecting for Good Programme’.
How did Deloitte Digital help?
At Deloitte Digital we excel at developing bespoke web and mobile applications to meet our clients’ requirements. This positioned us well to work with Inspire Foundation, the University of Bath and Epic to deliver the SOFA app to a wider audience.
Parent module: Parents can register for an account within the app itself in order to be able to make use of it. Once parents have their account approved, they will be able to create accounts on behalf of their children.
Child’s module: Children are able to login using the credentials created by their parents. Here they will find stories assigned to them, which they can read and interact with through the game, described below.
Story library: Parents can search stories by topic, name, age and communication level, making it easier for them to assign stories to their children.
Story creation: Parents can also create their own stories or edit one of the stories available in the public story library by changing images and text. They can also choose from a set of stock images or else upload new images or photos from the app itself. In addition, parents can assign stories to their children in order for the child to find the story once logged in to the app.
Interactive Game: The purpose of this activity is to check the comprehension of the story. After a child finishes reading a story, a comprehension test is shown consisting of three random sentences with a missing word in each sentence. The child will then have to choose the correct answer from a number of presented options and will be corrected as they go.
Personalized reward page: A personalized reward page is created following the completion of reading the story where a personalized message will be displayed.
Text to speech: Children are able to view stories that have been assigned to them once logged in within the app itself. However, while reading these stories, they have the option to have someone read the story to them via a text-to-speech mechanism. This feature supports children with a limited reading ability to access the stories more independently.
Export to PDF: The app allows users to export the social stories as PDF to the mobile device it is used on. This allows children and parents to have access to the social stories offline and wherever they are needed.
Web dashboard: This dashboard enables researchers to grant access to parents to use the app, create and edit story topics and add new images to the system. In addition, researchers also have the possibility to view the analytics of ratings and comprehension test results for each story that is available within the app.
The outcome of this was a mobile application that is now available for free and worldwide on both Android and iOS. The app will have a positive impact on the autistic community, which stands at approximately one in 54 children worldwide according to CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network.