Autistics in (Educational) Space: Building Our Own Futures

A white pillow with a flap of fabric that can be hidden inside. The flap is exposed and on it is written, in permanent marker, the text of a dream: "I want to make a great story to share with the world, and inspire others like stories inspired me growing up and even now." Behind the pillow is a journal, the cover of which is a rainbow coloured 'bubble popping' fidget toy. Both are artefacts used in the study.

For Ryan Collis, a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Education at York University, Toronto, Canada, his research addresses how the educational system can be more hospitable to autistic students. It’s an endeavour that he describes as “complex and vast” with many moving parts. That’s why Ryan reached out to us for transcription services in support of his research.

As part of his project, four participants who identified as autistic read Failure to Communicate, a sci-fi book by autistic writer Kaia Søndeby featuring an autistic protagonist, in six parts.

Then, in a shared reading ethnography, each participant discussed what they noticed in the story, which was recorded and formed the basis of the transcriptions that we supported. The goal of the project was  to invite autistic people to undertake a world-building exercise, to envision a future world created with autistic people in mind, leading to some ideas on reforming the education system – looking at high school, specifically – to better serve autistic students.

Tackling Ryan’s Research

Ryan’s research totalled around 24 hours of interview recordings that needed to be transcribed. Because a number of Ryan’s participants were non-verbal, some of the interviews involved Ryan reading out the interviewee’s text-based responses on the audio, which needed to be captured and differentiated on the transcript.

“Having the interview recordings transcribed was extremely useful to my project. I have looked at using digital transcription tools, and even under the best conditions the results required a considerable amount of time and effort to make useable. AAT was able to provide full transcripts with only a tiny investment of my time to prepare and submit the recordings.”

uncovering insights

With our help, Ryan’s 24 hours of research interviews were transcribed in a way that rendered them immediately usable, without any additional time or effort on Ryan’s part. When the alternative was spending hours cleaning up a messy AI-generated transcript, thanks to our skilled human transcribers he could now focus his creative energy on the coding and analysis of his participants’ responses.

To find out more about Ryan’s work, visit his personal website and Orcid profile

Do you have qualitative interviews that need transcribing? Get in touch.

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