Call: Designing with and for Users on the Autism Spectrum – International Journal of HCI special issue

International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction

Special Issue Call for Papers:
Designing with and for Users on the Autism Spectrum

Submissions due: 3 September 2017

Autism is a lifelong developmental condition that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people, and to the world around them. It is estimated that around 1 in 68 people are autistic. Autism is also a spectrum condition, which means that it affects different people in different ways. Some autistic people have communication impairments and some also have a learning disability. However, a substantial proportion is of average or advanced intellectual ability and generally leading an independent life.

When designing technology for this population, autistic characteristics have to be considered. Autistic people typically welcome structure, both in their daily routines and their social interactions. It has been argued that interactive systems and other products should equally be designed in a clear and uncluttered way, reducing complexity. However, capabilities and individual preferences can vary widely across the autism spectrum, and what works for one group may not be universally applicable.

Further, established design practices may prove difficult to apply as users may be unable to express their preferences clearly. People with autism may also struggle with the roles typically assumed in user-centred design approaches that rely on active user involvement, participation in co-creation sessions and prototype testing.

To advance research in this area, we invite original research contributions which focus on the design of interactive systems, products, environments and experiences for users on the autism spectrum. We particularly invite contributions focussing on supporting the strengths of autistic people. Submissions must describe original research of the highest scientific quality and will be rigorously peer reviewed. The expected length is about 6,000-8,000 words. We welcome submission that are based on recent conference papers if the submission includes additional contributions.

Please note that we also welcome submission that touch on related neurodiverse conditions, cognitive disorders and developmental conditions such as Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or Dyscalculia.


The call for this special issue reflects the interdisciplinary nature of the International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, covering disability, design, co-creation, computer science, education and health. It includes all aspects and stages of technology design, with a particular focus on how end user have been involved in the design process. Contributions are invited, but not limited to:

  • human-centred design approaches, e.g. participatory design or design thinking
  • supporting important life transitions, e.g. between schools, or from education into employment
  • systems that build on autistic strengths and capabilities (rather than overcoming weaknesses)
  • involving parents, carers or teachers in the design process
  • technology support with everyday activities
  • mainstream apps or services effectively appropriated for autism support
  • eliciting user needs, preferences and creativity
  • product, interior and architecture design solutions that help prevent injury or getting lost
  • enabling effective self-advocacy
  • designing for sensory needs
  • facilitating social communication, e.g. between peers or within a family
  • significant empirical work that informs the design of new technology
  • training and educating the next generation of designers


Submissions due: 3 September 2017
First Notifications: 1 November 2017
Revisions due: 15 November 2017
Second Notifications: 15 December 2017
Final versions due: 31 December 2017
Special Issue published: Spring 2018


Submissions must describe original research of the highest scientific quality and will be rigorously peer reviewed. The expected length is about 6,000-8,000 words. We welcome submissions that are based on recent conference papers if the submission includes additional contributions. All submissions are made online and papers must follow the author instructions for the Journal of Human-Computer Interaction. For detailed instructions please visit For any queries please contact the guest editors of this special issue.


Dr Marc Fabri
School of Computing, Creative Technologies and Engineering
Leeds Beckett University, UK

Marc’s research is centred around design methodology, user experience design and assistive technologies. He leads the Autism&Uni project which widens participation in Higher Education for autistic students. He also leads the Enabling Technologies research group at Leeds Beckett University. Marc uses Social Innovation and Design Thinking methods for the conception of new solutions to old problems, and most of his research revolves around the application and further evolution of design methodologies. He is an autism champion at his university. Marc has organised workshops and parallel paper sessions on the topic of designing for autism at various conferences, including HCI International and the British HCI conference.

Debra Satterfield, Associate Professor
College of the Arts
California State University Long Beach

Debra has extensive research and publication in design for social inclusion, design for behavioral change, and the design of educational learning experiences for children with autism and other cognitive and physical disabilities. She has published this work through the Design Research Society (DRS), the International Association of Societies of Design Research (IASDR), and Interaction Design and Children (IDC). She has taught courses on smart home technologies, human computer interaction, experience design, and design ethics. Debra is currently conducting research on quality of life issues for children with autism spectrum disorders and the implications it has for the design of products, services and environments for persons with ASD.

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