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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Bright

Designing an inclusive story retell app

In 2021 we are often asked about how we can make our treasure based story more inclusive for the future. There is always more we can do to make sure that our app and the story within it are inclusive for a wider range of children.

When we started designing the story we shared a range of potential characters and settings with children, parents and speech and language therapists around the world. We worked with a designer from Sago Mini, whose expertise was in play design. Characters included dragon-slaying princesses, multi-generational families and animal-based characters. Settings varied from urban streets to the vegetable patch and farms to fictional lands.

Feedback from some of our partner schools included the need to make sure that the setting would be familiar to both city-dwellers who may not have visited farms, and more rural children who may be less frequently visiting bustling cities. One setting that children were likely to have access to in both city and rural areas was play areas - playgrounds or spaces in school with sandpits. The sandpit and the act of digging for things was a theme that resonated and was then expanded to the quest for treasure.

An initial sketch of a boy and a dog searching for treasure was tested with children and met with enthusiasm. This lead to the beta version of the app incorporating a treasure quest storyline. In testing, children from four to eight enjoyed the story.

We then rolled out the story in our citizen science project and the app was downloaded by over 4000 people, and over 400 parents completed the survey, with 91% of children reporting that they enjoyed using the app.

We hope in the future that we can find ways to make the app more inclusive by listening to the children and parents who use the app.

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