An introduction to Aubin - a new kind of journey planner for passengers with autism and other hidden disabilities
This week, we’re going to tell you about our travel planner app Aubin as it has been a while since we posted an update.
What is Aubin?
Aubin is a travel app whose purpose is to make independent travel easier for people with neurodiverse conditions. It works by selecting journeys that aren’t necessarily the cheapest or the quickest, but the least stressful.
The app consists of a Journey Planner and a ‘Travel Companion’. The journey planner allows the user to plan and visualise their journey and mode of transport in detail, to allow Aubin to find the least stressful route. Aubin finds a number of different routes, and then the user can choose which route they are most comfortable with. The journey can be planned on a PC or laptop beforehand and then saved for viewing on a mobile device.
For example, the user may wish to avoid routes that may have tunnels or crowded stations and Aubin will inform the user of suitable routes or rank potential stress factors on routes where these are unavoidable.
Users can set their travel preferences when first using the app and the suggested journeys will be based on the saved information.
The Travel Companion aims to help travellers whilst en-route to their destination by allowing them to communicate how they’re feeling to a carer if they are unable to do so verbally. If disruption to the train journey occurs, the app will present the user with alternative options again based on their travel preferences.
There is also a ‘Get Me Home’ function which replans a user’s journey should they wish to abort their current one.
How did you get the idea?
Well, we started working on Aubin in 2017, it began from an original idea suggested by one of our staff who has an autistic child and wanted a travel app that would make journeys easier for other autistic children.
What really gave us the reason we needed to start working on Aubin was when we found out that the National Autistic Society found that over 52% of autistic people said fear of unexpected changes stopped them from travelling on public transport. We wanted to help make their experiences safer and easier.
Research, research, research
Jnction’s philosophy is to approach new apps from a user perspective. To understand our users thoroughly we need to research their needs and ensure we delivered an authentic solution, so research was carried out through focus groups with the Mouth That Roars in Shoreditch and the National Autistic Society.
We also ran an online survey to understand autistic people’s experiences of using public transport, after which we could start development.
Organising funding has been key to Aubin’s development. London Midland provided initial support for a concept demonstrator and then JNCTION were fortunate enough to be one of the winners of RSSB”s accessibility competition in 2018 which enabled us to fund Aubin through to a beta version.
We are currently exploring a range of options to fund the launch of Aubin, from rail industry sources to crowdfunding.
In an earlier blog, we mentioned that the coronavirus and the newly announced rail emergency measures agreements have delayed rollout this year.
On a more positive note, we have received some very helpful feedback from people in the Autistic community and from Train Operators, so, over the past few months, we have focused on how to make Aubin more accessible for more people, for example, those with hidden disabilities - extending Aubin’s remit to help a wider group of people...
We’re looking to run another online survey to understand how the current pandemic may have affected travel attitudes this year. Be sure to keep an eye out for a forthcoming blog with more news.
We hope to carry out further work soon on the travel companion element. For this work, we would like to get feedback from those with hidden disabilities about how best to tackle this issue.
We now anticipate that Aubin will be released next year.
We're always keen for additional ideas and we are looking to open up discussions with as many rail and disabilities organisations as possible.
If you work in Accessibility and have suggestions about how we can develop Aubin, or are interested to talk more about it, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 020 3011 1008.
For more info on Aubin, please go to www.aubin.app
As for now, we hope you’ve found this useful, speak to you soon!