Nicholas, D.B., Litman, S., Sutton, R., Lively, S., Dobson, C.M. (In progress). Reviewing websites that offer navigational support to parents of children with neurodevelopmental disabilities and their families
Caregivers of children with a disability face challenges in accessing and navigating helpful and appropriate information and resources. Some websites for information and resources exist, but vary in focus, target group, quality of information and searchability. This mixed methods study sought to identify features of websites that offer navigational supports to parents. The study comprised: (i) reviewing existing websites that offer navigation resources and information, and (ii) identifying parents’ preferences of web-based navigational resources for families. Twenty websites were selected, assessed and evaluated based on four indices: searchability (e.g., organization of information), features (e.g., types of information), information and links (e.g., organization of links), and overall look and feel (e.g., appearance). Ten parents of children with an NDD reviewed the top-rated websites through a survey and a focus group.
Results indicated that websites that are deemed to be helpful have several integral elements: effective searchability functions (e.g., ease of search engines), helpful features (e.g., information to contact support), and a clear and esthetically appealing appearance (e.g., website appears user-friendly). Improving navigation of website resources needs to have an effective, intuitive search function (e.g., filters to help parents find resources based on key factors such as age, developmental stage and diagnosis), content (e.g., engaging stories of lived experiences), interactivity (e.g., ways to interact with website support team), implementation (e.g., proactive means to promote awareness of the website) and design (e.g., suitability for and engagement of families of children with NDD). This study demonstrates the need to enhance web-based navigational supports in relation to its content and quality, and thus help families of children with NDD access much-needed resources and information
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