The Role of the Designer in the Facilitation of Meaningful Play between Disabled and Non-disabled Children

Moore, A.-M. (2016). The Role of the Designer in the Facilitation of Meaningful Play between Disabled and Non-disabled Children. PhD thesis University of Leeds.



User-centred design seeks to respond to the needs and aspirations of the end user at each stage of the design process. Yet when attempts are made to engage children as users in the design process, the pre-existing power differentials between adults and children can lead to the silencing of children’s voices. As disabled children are amongst the most marginalised of an already disempowered group, for them, this problem is further compounded. This calls for a new approach towards user-centred design with disabled and non-disabled children. This thesis draws upon the methodological aspects of Together Through Play - a three-year, interdisciplinary research project at the University of Leeds, which sought to develop understanding of children’s needs and aspirations for playing together. It reflects upon the processes that led to the emergence of rich, sociological data through this case study. How to encourage designers to truly listen to the voices of disabled children and how to effectively convey the aspirations of disabled children to product design and development teams, became key emergent issues. With the intention of addressing the power imbalance between designers and children in the design process, the researcher employed and adapted methods of cooperative inquiry, an approach to creating new technologies for children, with children (Druin, 1999). Reflections upon the methods employed are used to inform a set of guidelines for design curricula for interaction design (IxD) with children and child computer interaction (CCI) researchers seeking to work in the area of user-centred design with disabled children in the future.

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