On Tuesday 29th September 2020, the National Autism Team launched their brand new website AutismWales.org / AwtistiaethCymru.org (formerly ASDinfoWales.co.uk).
Although the previous website was a well-known and established website, which provided useful information and resources to autistic people, their families, parents/ carers, professionals, and the general public, the National Autism Team felt it was time for the website to be refreshed.
Between October 2019 to January 2020, the National Autism Team circulated an online survey asking users of the website, key stakeholders and networks for feedback on the www.ASDinfoWales.co.uk website. A significant amount of responses to the survey was received from autistic people, parents/ carers and professionals. The feedback confirmed that there was room for improvement regarding the user experience and navigation of the site, and that some of the content needed to be updated.
At the beginning of 2020, the National Autism Team completed a procurement process and commissioned a new website provider. During April / May 2020, the National Autism Team established a Project Board and two Stakeholder Groups – one for content, and another for testing. These meetings ensured that the development of the new website included the views and voices of autistic people, parents/ carers and professionals who were well versed in the old website.
Changes we have made…
New website domain
Following regular feedback from autistic people in Wales that the “social model” of disability is more appropriate to autistic adults than the medical model following diagnosis, many people dislike the term “ASD” and prefer “autism”. Therefore, we reviewed the brand and web domain name and we purchased domains for AutismWales.org / AwtistiaethCymru.org, once these were approved by the Project Stakeholder Group, Project Board, and the National Management Board.
The navigation of the website has been improved, and is even more accessible now across various devices. There is the option for the user to access a mega-menu to see what is available within each section of the website, as well as an option to scroll through the sections from the Home page. The image below gives sight of the new Home page:
The top tool bar includes:
- Accessibility links, so that the user can select
- language preference
- text size preference
- Background/ text colour filter preference
- Contact details for the National Autism Team and contacts for in your local area.
- Information and key documents from the National Autism Team and Welsh Government can be found under About us.
- View updates, news items, and latest information in the News and events section.
- The resources tab contains links to view all of our films, as well as other useful organisations and their resources, including Welsh Neurodevelopmental services.
- You can Login by creating your own personal username and password to use our interactive resources and complete the certificated schemes. These will all be saved against your personal User Dashboard.
We have re-structured the main sections so that users can access all relevant information more effectively and efficiently. A summary of what resources are available under each section is also available to view from the menu and on the webpage:
- Adjusting text size
- Background colour filters options
- Language options
- Subtitles on films
For more information please click here to read our Accessibility statement.
The National Autism Team will continue to work with our Stakeholder Groups to improve the content and resources available across the website. Here are some of the areas we are looking to develop further over the coming months:
- Interactive and narrated versions of the Autism Superhero comic and story books.
- A ‘User dashboard’ to personalise the site for the user.
- Easy Read resources and documents.
- A ‘Children and Young People’s Zone’.
- Improved Employment resources.
- The most recent research and up-to-date information.
- Case Studies to capture the good practice taking place in autism services and Local Authorities in Wales.
Gerraint Jones Griffiths, autistic person and Lead Ambassador for the Engage to Change Project, All Wales People First. Member of the AutismWales.org Project Board.
“The present Covid-19 situation has highlighted the importance of accurate, reliable information being readily available to all. It is also so important that the information is available in an accessible form. The role of the Content Stakeholder Group was to look at the way users navigated the site. The strength of the Group has been the range of membership. It is not good enough to simply populate such a group with professionals. It is essential that those who have a lived experience of the condition, who can actually say whether something works, are included in the process. Quite simply, no amount of training or experience quite matches to the insight of autistic individuals themselves, and it has been such a privilege to work with them. We hope the Content Stakeholder Group has helped to produce a new website which has all the reliable good stuff that the old one had, only now it’s much easier to find and in a more accessible format. Importantly, it has been shaped by people who properly represent those who will use it and benefit from it.”
Keith Ingram, Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan Autism Lead. Member of the AutismWales.org Content Stakeholder Group.