Accessible Audio for Autistic Individuals – A3i

Project Description

Autism spectrum disorder, hereafter termed ‘autism’, is a neurodevelopmental condition affecting 1.1% of the adult population in the UK [1]. Presentation of autism varies significantly, covering a wide-spectrum of verbal and non-verbal individuals and normal-range IQ to those with co-occurring learning disabilities. The most recent iteration of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) includes atypical sensory processing as one of the criteria for a diagnosis of autism [2]. This includes both hyper and hypo – reactivity to sensory input. It is these differences in neural processing of A/AV stimuli which have the unexplored, yet likely, potential to alter the media access needs of autistic individuals.

An individual’s “media access needs” refers to their requirements for being able to perceive media (sensory needs), and understand, engage with and enjoy media (cognitive needs) [3]. They can be shaped by permanent conditions (e.g. a deafened person), temporary conditions (e.g. treatable sight loss) and situational factors (e.g. watching a streaming service on public transport), or a combination of these [4].

The A3i: Accessible Audio for Autistic Individuals project [1, 2] is the first research project to characterise autistic individuals’ media access needs. It has collated data from 100 autistic adults about access service usage (e.g. subtitles and audio description), preferred viewing environments, speech perception and the audiovisual experiences they seek and avoid. The project has successfully set up a co-production panel of autistic individuals who have guided the research themes and are central in the development of the survey instrument.