Finalist category: People's Award
People's Award, Winner, 2018
An innovative wayfinding app for people with a learning disability.
WayToB is a wayfinding app for people with a learning disability (LD), an estimated group of 1,087,100 people in England alone.
Smartphone applications for wayfinding such as Google Maps are widely used, but they are not suitable for those with LD – both from a cognitive perspective, and from a safety aspect, walking while trying to follow a smartphone screen presents risks from traffic, crime, and others.
WayToB was created to tackle this problem. It offers individuals with LD independence, good levels of mobility, well-being and quality of life, and also peace of mind to family members and carers, who can make sure their loved ones are safe.
The solution is an integrated smartphone and smartwatch platform to help people with LD navigate independently and works based on a partnership approach.
The person with LD follows icon-based instructions on their watch; and their partner (parent, friend or carer) adds safe routes for them and is able to track their location, heart rate and battery life, as well as get notified for key journey events (eg. getting lost, stopping for too long, showing high levels of anxiety, etc.).
From the very beginning, the solution was developed with the principles of Universal Design in mind, to ensure it is accessible to every type of user. waytoB was designed to be as flexible and inclusive as possible, providing independence to everyone: people with learning disabilities including autism, the elderly, and people with physical, cognitive, visual and hearing impairments.
End users have been involved since the project started in 2014 with over 100 stakeholders participating in interviews, focus groups, shadowing and online surveys. More than 10 prototypes were developed and tested with individuals with LD, family members and service providers for people with LD.
Trials began in 2017 with testers using WayToB in their daily routine to help them travel independently. The development team met with testers every 2 weeks to get feedback and observe them using the available features. The development of the solution was completely guided by the users’ real needs and preferences. An icon-based language was co-designed with the testers, which is used to give directions to the user on the watch. By utilising user-centred techniques and co-design approaches, it ensured the users needs were met.
WayToB was created to empower people with learning disabilities to live the life of their choice. The app promotes greater independence by enabling individuals to perform a task that they were formerly unable to accomplish. By enabling this group to reach their desired destinations by themselves, it allows people with LD to become more integrated into society, increase their level of mobility, employability and overall quality of life.