This paper demonstrates the importance of participation with end-users and interdisciplinary collaboration with experts, to the design process. The context for this study is interaction between autistic children and computers in education. Whereas computers in education are conventionally associated with task-based learning, my research uses the computer as a tangible interface for embodied play activities. I make two claims with regard to the participatory design process. (1) There is, I argue, an important relationship between the participatory design process and the design of play for autistic children. End-user participation in this context allows the highly particular responses and reactions of autistic children to be recorded and included in the evolutionary design process. (2) The interdisciplinary approach to collaboration presents a challenging paradox for designers, as it requires both imaginative and empirical design methods. Whilst it is often critical to have statistic analysis to satisfy scientific approaches, it is of equal importance, within this area of research, to understand the idiosyncratic behavioural patterns of individuals on a spectrum of autistic difference. In this paper, I (a) set out my work on the computer as a tangible interface for embodied play, (b) demonstrate, through examples of the Reactive Colours research methods, how autistic children claim the embodied play environment as their own, and (c) describe how this appropriation by the children and interdisciplinary collaboration is incorporated into the design process. I also indicate the benefits which the tangible interface has for enhancing the learning capacities of autistic children.
|Keywords:||Participatory Design, Interdisciplinary Collaboration, Tangible Interfaces, Play, Autistic Spectrum|
Senior Lecturer, Principal Investigator, Reactive Colours Research Project, Cardiff School of Art and Design, University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, University of Wales Institute, Wales, UK
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