EMBER

empowering trainees with learning disabilities

It is the end of the first month in a terrifying new job. You’ve been anxious from the day you started. You feel a bit like an outsider, not really part of the team. It's hard to remember things, so learning new tasks is daunting and you need constant support. You feel too frightened to ask for help. 

 

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proof of concept

This is a very common situation for someone with learning difficulties.

Innovate UK  and SBRI put a call out to create a proof of concept and develop ideas around assistive technologies.

We won the funding as design and technology partners with National Star College ,one of Europe’s leading specialist colleges. You might have seen them in the Channel 4 series The Unbreakables: Life and Love on Disability Campus

How might we imagine an experience that enables confident working for people with learning difficulties?

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Stepping into the shoes of the trainees 

Immersing ourselves in the trainee’s world in live work environments at EDF and National Star College Bistro, we observed them in action. 

We interviewed Job coaches to understand the support they provide and how this might change for an individual.

 

The smart Kitchen

We re-imagined the support the job coaches provide as a digital helper app, triggered by ‘checking-in’ to specific beacon points in the work environment. For the purposes of our design, a Kitchen with trigger points by the main door, the Fridge and the Oven.

 

A little nudge

We discovered that most people just need a little helping hand: a nudge in the right direction or a reminder to help with the steps of a task so they feel more confident and don’t have to ask for help.

 

My virtual job coach

In a co-creation workshop we collaborated with job coaches to break down tasks into simple steps with images and instructions in both words and audio to imagine a personalised experience for each trainee.

IT HELPS ME TO UNDERSTAND WHAT TO DO, I LIKE BEING SHOWN THE TASKS AND HAVING MY OWN PHOTOS USED FOR MY JOBS
— A trainee
 

taking to market

The product needed a name. We developed three core themes:

  • Transmission - Beacons emitting information in an invisible support environment communicating and guiding
  • Memory - little nudges in the right direction
  • Ignition - the Spark that kickstarts empowerment and independence.

We came up with the name Ember.

 

 

ember in action

Innovate UK believe this product will have a big impact on the amount of support required by the employer and therefore increase the number of people with learning difficulties into the workplace. 

 

IN A NUTSHELL

WHAT WE DID:

Guerrilla user research with NHS, EDF, National Star College, RNIB

Experience design for the job coach platform and mobile app for trainees

Brand name and messaging

Series of promotional films

 
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