Map Your Future is a co-designed free online program that enables young disabled people to set goals and get the right support to achieve them. Today and Youth Disability Advocacy Service (YDAS) worked together with young people to design a process that leads with the theme of disability pride.
YDAS focus on supporting disabled young people who require individual advocacy. Their Map Your Future workshops are about helping disabled young people to be aware of goals that they might want to set—living their lives, setting themselves up to leave school and live independently—but within the context of it being accessible. Originally a PowerPoint presented in-person to young people in schools, our challenge was to create the online version of these workshops—something that their young audience could do independently at home, emulating the experience of someone supporting you through it when you need it.
The entire project was driven by co-designing with disabled young people: from preliminary paper sketches detailing what the tool could look like, through to testing ideas, digital prototypes and iterative site design and build. It was important to make sure people’s needs were met. We were conscious of the broad range of disabilities young people are living with and the intentional simplicity of the final design reflects this. The result means young people can map their future in their own time, own space, at their own pace.
Map Your Future is live and thriving. It promotes asking ‘What would you like to do?’ over ‘What can’t you do?’ “Making the website has evolved the whole physical space workshop and has given us many more ways to engage through different formats... A parent, carer or teacher can now sit down and do this with their young person. Whereas before, we had to deliver it as a workshop, we needed our expertise. But we’ve done a really good job of translating that expertise onto the site, which means that more people can do it.”—Simon Green, YDAS
YDAS ran preliminary workshops with the young audience and had them sketch out on paper what they imagined this online tool would look like and what they thought was important to be included. We took these learnings and translated them into a digital version that would work across any device. We then ran workshops to test the ideas with people to make sure their needs were met. “It was really important that the first step happened as early as possible, so we didn’t have any heavy preconceived notions of the site. Young people influenced the site first, then we designed based on what they said, in combination with our expertise as youth and disability workers and Today’s expertise in building functional and accessible sites.”—Simon Green, YDAS "It was a beautifully collaborative environment."—Beata Klepek, Today