Empathy brings insight - Fun in new exciting project

There is a lack of knowledge in society, not least in workplaces, about how we can facilitate for people with social, communicative and mental disabilities. We want to change that. The idea is inspired by the BBC CAPE project, with whom we are also collaborating.

More and more people are diagnosed with mental disorders and neuropsychiatric disabilities, but there is still a relatively low understanding of what this means for individuals. Together with Certec at Lund University of Technology, Funka will increase social inclusion by developing new tools to understand and better handle hidden disabilities.

The project itself focuses on life at work, but both the educational material and the videos we produce in the project will be possible to use in many different contexts, says Sara Kjellstrand, research coordinator at Funka and one of those behind the project.

At Funka we have worked successfully with empathy exercises for many years. Several of our customers continue to purchase empirical exercises for all new employees and/or subcontractors. It is, of course, not possible to really simulate how a person experiences his or her own abilities, but over the years we have received so much positive feedback on our training sessions with practical exercises that we are confident that the method both arouses interest and creates understanding for people's different conditions.

This feels like a very important project, says Linus Ersson, UX designer and accessibility expert at Funka, who leads the project for Funka's part. There are so many resources in these individuals that are not used just because we do not know how to adapt workplaces with relatively simple means.

By working closely with people with hidden disabilities and starting from their perspective, we will create virtual experiences using 360° film technology. The films become part of a training material that is developed for different roles. In addition, within the framework of the project, we develop a method for using the films in work-life-oriented rehabilitation and individualized support for work, so-called Supported employment.

The purpose of using 360° movies and Virtual Reality glasses is that the people who have seen the movies should remember the situations as if they were there - not that they have seen a film about someone else. The increased sense of presence will hopefully affect attitudes and behavior, says Håkan Eftring, project manager and researcher at Certec at Lund University of Technology.

Certec at Lund University of Technology, who leads the project, will, among other things, evaluate methods, films and educational material to make sure it has the intended results.

Material for empathy exercises (in Swedish), opens in new window

Challenge-driven innovation, Swedish Innovation Agency VINNOVA
Consortium: Certec, Faculty of Engineering at Lund Technical Unicersity (project manager), DART, the Swedish Public Amployment Service, Norrtälje municipality and Funka.
Period: May 2019 - April 2021
Budget: 180 000 EURO (step 2)

Virtual Reality for increased knowledge about hidden disabilities (step 1)