According to a 2016 survey by the UK’s National Autistic Society, fewer than one in six autistic adults are in full-time employment. It’s a figure that has barely budged in the past decade. Its bleakness is amplified by the finding that of this number, 77 per cent say they want to work. In an effort to challenge these trends, University of the West of England Bristol Product Design graduate developed a range of interactive learning material to help those with autism successfully navigate the interview process and gain employment.
Jenna Schuetzle, who holds a 1st Class BSc in Creative Product Design from UWE, began developing what she’s called Employ Me as part of her Honours degree. A blend of technology and tangible products, the materials allow for the user to learn valuable skills via an interactive experience. Featuring a design inspired by the exceedingly popular fidget-spinner – a toy for people who have trouble with focusing or fidgeting that aids in the relieving nervous energy or psychological stress – it aims to help reduce the anxiety of autistic job applicants while boosting their confidence.
Created in the style of traditional board games, it comes with a board divided into 8 sections. Each section focuses on a different aspect of a typical job interview and concentrates on the skills necessary to be successful within that specific area. From preparation, travel arrangements and greeting tips, to how to ask and answer questions and conclude the interview, the material covers nearly every aspect of the interview process.
Including a specially-designed personal device to which the user’s progress and answers are stored, this addition allows them to use the information for prepping at any time in the lead up to their actual interview. The user simply plugs in a set of earphones to the device and can immediately recap the answers and interactions they successfully practised.
Schuetzle was recently a winner in the first-ever Student Service Design Awards, presented by the Service Design Fringe Festival and Arts Thread. To learn more about her Employ Me project, you can visit her ArtsThread Portfolio.