Stepping Stones is a simple graphic organiser app. The app is designed for children and adults who benefit from visual support for daily routines, including those with developmental disabilities such as Autism, attention or auditory processing deficits, learning disabilities, or anxiety.
Parents or caregivers can create daily routines and schedules or describe the steps of an event or activity, using their own photos, instead of clip-art, to personalise the experience for the user.
This app has two sets of users with different goals; the parent or caregiver who creates the routine, as well as the child or adult who will be using the app.
Our review of existing apps showed that this was often a convoluted and time consuming process. We wanted to create an app that streamlined this process as much as possible.
For the user of the routines, each step should focus on the content so that it is clear and easy to understand without distractions. The most relevant routine for the user also needs to be quickly accessible at the top of the home screen.
Stepping Stones was given 4 stars in a review by Smart Apps for Special Needs
Stepping Stones needs to accommodate two work flows; creating a visual routine, and viewing a visual routine.
To create a routine a user needs to work with different types of media to create an ordered series of steps. The user will need to be able to add text, take photos, and record audio, as well as set timers, dates, and locations.
Some people with autism struggle with generalisation, where they won’t necessarily make the connection between a clip-art image of a teddy bear and their own teddy bear. We avoided this problem by allowing the user to take their own photos, so in the app they see a photo of their actual teddy bear.
The controls for creating and editing routines are hidden by default and enabled using a two finger swipe gesture to help users stay focussed on the routines.
While creating and editing steps the input focus automatically shifts to the next task to reduce friction and allow the user to focus on the content they need to add.
Dates and locations allow the app to determine which routine is most likely to be needed at any given time and sorts them to the top.
Each step screen presents the content as large and as clear as possible. The navigation bar is hidden to discourage exiting the routine before it has been completed.
I chose to use a system typeface with a complete family to allow for better typography. This limits the options to Helvetica and Avenir. I chose to go with Avenir to give the app some personality of its own, separate from the iOS system typeface.
Photos are square and fill the screen full width. The square photo leaves room for text and timers to be displayed. Visual styling was kept to a minimum, but still in line with the system style.
Routines displayed on the home screen showed the first six images in a routine to make it quickly and easily identifiable. They are sorted by time of day, with routines for the current time or near future at the top.