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Conference Papers Year : 2017

Designing for inclusion: Examining Do-It-Yourself design activities


Adapted educational material for children with visual impairments has long been customized by service providers (e.g. tactile document designers) or caregivers (parents, teachers etc.). It includes braille books, tactile representations, adapted music scores, various handmade models etc. This paper proposes to investigate the current provision of adapted educational material. Over the last few years, these design activities have gradually evolved in several ways. It can now include the development of Do-It-Yourself and low-cost software and hardware solutions (e.g. systems to magnify the whiteboard on students’ computers), and the use of digital fabrication techniques (e.g. laser-cut conversation charts or customization of desks with 3D printed tags). However, little is known about the development of knowledge and skills necessary to design these artifacts: How do carers assemble mainstream artifacts to build new inclusive technologies? How are the needs negotiated by pupils, service providers and caregivers? At the crossroad of disability and science and technology studies, this communication builds upon a year-and-a-half ethnography study in a French center providing services to children with visual impairments. It included interviews of actors regularly engaging in Do-It-Yourself design projects aiming at fostering inclusion. The corpus was open-coded (using Nvivo) and analyzed inductively. The themes identified were then examined in light of the research literature. We observed different types of adaptations for making artifacts inclusive, consistent with Akrich (1998): For instance, a child’s computer was “extended” by a Bluetooth camera to make a cheap magnifying system. In these processes, some study participants also developed strong design skills: they learned to transfer properties of mainstream artifacts to invent new objects. As these projects often add to their workload, participants claim to only provide reasonable accommodations. However, children or peers may negotiate it by highlighting the design challenges of the artifact to be made. The participants also seem concerned about the maintenance and care of the artifacts developed. To deal with these difficulties, they develop a community of practice, building on intermittent offline sharing (e.g. during training for service provider’s employees) and loose online sharing (e.g. through private emails).
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Dates and versions

hal-01592253 , version 1 (23-09-2017)



  • HAL Id : hal-01592253 , version 1


Emeline Brulé, Gilles Bailly. Designing for inclusion: Examining Do-It-Yourself design activities. ALTER Conference, Jul 2017, Lausanne, Switzerland. ⟨hal-01592253⟩
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