The aims of HAO2 are to: 1) be profitable; 2) promote the inclusion of individuals who are often excluded from employment, both through the manner in which HAO2 is run (promoting this through communication) and by enabling them to enter the workplace by using training (for example on communication skills, team work or interview skills); and 3) develop innovative products that benefit users and improve their quality of life.
An example of this is the 3DNovations Hub, developed by and for people with autism, which is aimed at local authorities or partnerships that want to create more vocational training and employment opportunities for people with autism.
The CEO of HAO2 believes that ongoing stakeholder involvement is necessary to achieve effective and profitable products. To enable the inclusion of those who may be excluded from common engagement methodologies (e.g., focus groups), the company uses a wide range of engagement methodologies, such as instant chat, video chat, surveys and interviews. For the 3DNovations Hub, HAO2 conducted a feasibility study, together with a university, an NGO and a governmental organisation, and a pilot with a city council, governmental organisation and a school for young children with special needs.
The company supports businesses reflecting on existing beliefs about employing people with disabilities by taking every possible opportunity to communicate about this topic (at public events and newspaper articles). It also does this internally by ensuring their core values inform the way the business is run – from inclusive design of new products to growth and investment strategies. By having engagement embedded in every stage of the process, the company is able to reflect on its position and review how products or processes may need to be changed.
The company works through a process of user led design. Nikki Herbertson, the CEO and founder, believes that only people with autism can provide the insight needed for useful research and development in this area. In addition, to promote sustainable processes and sustainable solutions, people with autism should participate as researchers and citizen researches, rather than just as a focus group.