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Zafer Elcik: Reaching neurodiverse learners through digital interactions

Zafer Elick, Co-founder and CEO of Otsimo, has devoted his career to teaching neurodiverse learners through digital interactions. In a presentation to our department, he shared his recommendations on how designers can work towards making any software more accessible to neurodiverse users. Zafer is the Co-founder and CEO of Otsimo, a company based in Turkey that creates materials for children with autism, Down syndrome, or other special needs.

When working with neurodiverse communities you need to be direct, simple, and clear. Providing visual aids like icons and diagrams also helps. “We use icons, images—real images most of the time. Diagrams and also voiceovers to support the content can be beneficial.” You can recycle material from existing interactives, but sometimes you have to make something specifically for neurodivergent audiences, “It’s about striking the right balance,” Zafer says. 

Zafer was inspired by his brother with severe autism, and continues to work for him and many others that struggle with speech due to special needs. 1 in 12 kids show speech delay problems, which can cause further cognitive and social interaction problems. Otsimo is used by millions of people and in over 1000 schools. They have over 50 interactive materials to help with tasks such as learning the 5 senses and counting. 

The Ostimo brand has won many awards such as the Apple App Store “Best Autism App” and the Parents’ Pick award for “Best Products for Preschool Kids 2020”. 

IMRE takes great care to make media that caters to diversity, equity, and inclusion, so we are honored to have had this opportunity to learn from Zafer. We used some considerations from his presentation in decisions about our upcoming game Theme Park Kitchen. Based on a previous product with time sensitive gameplay, we adjusted gameplay so the "star" rewards do not depend on the time dynamic, to make sure that kids who need more time to process the tasks would still be able to play the game.

You can read more about Otsimo here.

Written By: Emalie Hames, Student Assistant


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