An online sales system that can be managed by people with mental illness
FGUSAL/DICYT The Research Group on Interaction and E-Learning of the University of Salamanca has developed an online sales platform adapted to be managed by people suffering from mental illnesses. This virtual store called Dueroland will allow the workers of the employment center that INTRAS Foundation has in Coreses (Zamora) to sale products and offer services.
To be employed is a fundamental part of the recovery process for people with mental illness and that is why INTRAS Foundation maintains a special employment center in Coreses where we deliver products and services, states Felipe Soto, area manager from INTRAS Zamora.
In order to strengthen our sales channels and we came up with the idea of contacting the GRIAL research group so they help us to develop a platform for online commerce specially designed for workers affected with mental illnesses as they often face difficulties in handling technology. Attention, memory and the perception of certain stimuli can be a challenge for them, so it was essential to have a platform adapted to their needs, he adds.
Dueroland is similar to other e-commerce platforms, with an attractive presentation of products and all the usual options, but adapted to those who will manage it. In this sense, "people with disabilities, and even more people with disabilities due to a mental illness, do not have access to technologies and, therefore, developers must have a lot of sensitivity, knowledge and flexibility to access this collective".
In Dueroland you can find organic fruits and vegetables; wood manufactured products, cardboard products, ceramics and paper; and various services related to cleaning, for example, of rooms such as offices, houses and large surfaces, in addition to the washing of vehicles service.
Alicia García Holgado, GRIAL researcher, explains that the platform is a marketplace that has been developed based on open source software, as our research group always work with open sources. "Our starting point was a basic tool that allowed us to make many modifications to make usability and user experience different from what other online stores offer, since our goal was that people with mental illnesses could use it for both management and the purchase, " she says.
The difference with other marketplaces that can be developed or that currently exists, is that we wanted all the information to be very clear although this would imply having to make a few more clicks," she points out. The key is to go step by step, emphasizing, for example, the notification system to receive in the email very clear and concise information, with appropriate sizes and colours.
Transfer of Knowledge
The collaboration between INTRAS and the University of Salamanca allows a double transfer of knowledge. On the one hand, the INTRAS experience is transformed into technology. On the other hand, developers already know how to improve usability for this type of environment. "Before starting this project we consulted different state of the art publications related to online store environments and we have verified the deficiencies that exist in terms of usability," says Alicia García Holgado.
Generally, the current studies that relate new technologies and disability are focused on the client's part. Addressing a field as specific as mental illnesses and usability in the management of an online store is a new approach from both a practical and theoretical point of view. Therefore, the researchers hope to make a publication to share the knowledge acquire from this experience.
"We can draw some conclusions about good practices so that these spaces are really accessible," say the researcher after developing a project that has come forward thanks to the Proof of Concept call of the General Foundation of the University of Salamanca and the TCUE program from the Castilla y León regional Government.