Finalist 2022

Map Your Future

Today / Youth Disability Advocacy Service

Map Your Future helps young disabled people set and achieve goals around their independence.

Map Your Future is a free online program that was co-designed with young people disabled people, to support goal-setting and access to support in achieving them. Today and Youth Disability Advocacy Service (YDAS) worked with young people to design a process that leads with the theme of disability pride.

Design Brief:

YDAS focus on supporting young disabled people who require individual advocacy. Their Map Your Future workshops are about helping disabled young people to be aware of goals that they might want to set—living their lives, setting themselves up to leave school and live independently—but within the context of it being accessible. Originally a PowerPoint presented in-person to young people in schools, our challenge was to create the online version of these workshops—something that their young audience could do independently at home, emulating the experience of someone supporting you through it when you need it.

This project was developed by:

Design Process

The entire project was driven by co-designing with young disabled people: from preliminary paper sketches detailing what the tool could look like, through to testing ideas, digital prototypes and iterative site design and build. YDAS ran preliminary workshops with the young audience and had them sketch out on paper what they imagined this online tool would look like and what they thought was important to be included.

We took these learnings and translated them into a digital version that would work across any device. We then ran workshops to test the ideas with people to make sure their needs were met.

“It was really important that the first step happened as early as possible, so we didn’t have any heavy preconceived notions of the site. Young people influenced the site first, then we designed based on what they said, in combination with our expertise as youth and disability workers and Today’s expertise in building functional and accessible sites.”
—Simon Green, YDAS

"It was a beautifully collaborative environment."
—Beata Klepek, Today

We were conscious of the broad range of disabilities young people are living with and the intentional simplicity of the final design reflects this. The result means young people can map their future in their own time, own space, at their own pace.

Design Excellence

“Co-design was important for the online adaptation because we needed to understand what young people were doing online and how they were consuming information. The process was about bringing young disabled people in from the very, very start, as soon as we could.
—Simon Green, YDAS

After testing our initial ideas with young people, we created a wireframe prototype with key features such as being able to work through the topics one by one and being able to read an overall summary at the start to figure out what was coming. We set the prototype and discussion guide up for YDAS, and walked them through the process. We empowered them with the skills and tools to run the sessions with young people themselves. After the testing sessions, we regrouped and went through all the notes and learnings and were able to identify what we needed to iterate on the prototype and what was going to be difficult for people, workshopping ways we could design it to make it easier.

“We know that young people are using the tool, and some of them have told us that they’re using it with their parents, or there are parents sending in emails to tell us how much it’s been beneficial, particularly the section on disability pride.”
—Simon Green, YDAS

Design Innovation

The simplicity of the design is intentional and crucially important for accessibility. We tested the format and design with young people to ensure it worked for them and was compatible with the technology they use to access online tools such as dictation and screen readers. At the end of each section of the program, people are urged to either email their answers to themselves or print them.

There are multiple reasons for this intentional design. We wanted:

  • to avoid exporting the work as a PDF, as PDFs are not great for accessibility.
  • people to be able to ‘save’ their work when they were done but wanted to ensure that there was a low barrier to entry, which is why there are no passwords or usernames required to access the program.
  • people to be able to show their answers to their family and at their NDIS meetings. Most importantly, having a button to print emerged as a feature request during co-design with disabled young people.

Design Impact

The purpose behind our co-design process was to ensure disabled young people have access to an accessible tool that helps them advocate for themselves. The pandemic has changed the way people interact with each other, their environment and with businesses and services. Isolating with and from illness can be very challenging for disabled young people. The end result of the program is something that disabled young people can take to their NDIS meetings to help them express what they need. When we spoke with NDIS planners, they were incredibly enthusiastic about how this program will help them assist young people.

“Doing our programs and the Map Your Future work is a way to connect with other people. So it’s been nice for them to do it and to help them feel less trapped.”—Simon Green, YDAS “The section on disability pride was new, it wasn’t in the old workshop. And some of the feedback we’ve received is that most people are saying they didn’t realise they were a part of a community until they started seeing this section. And when they learn about what pride is supposed to mean, they realised that they could feel good.”—Simon Green, YDAS

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