This project explores participatory design models of design tools that support educational accessibility for people with physical impairments.

  • 20130130CoverSharing


Participatory Design for Educational Accessibility is a proposal of a design principle, process, and method part of a studio course that asked students to “analyse, speculate, and forecast new design paradigms through the making of design artifacts”. This project explores participatory design models of design tools that support educational accessibility for people with physical impairments.

In this case I based this project on Conductive Education, a framework used to teach people with mobility impairments –such as Cerebral Palsy– due to its integration of education and rehabilitation goals through sharing experiences. This projects proposes ways to evaluate and develop design systems and artifacts that support or facilitate Conductive Education, making emphasis on how they should be evaluated for accessibility at every stage of the design process.


In order to analyze the current and emerging sharing movements and the ways in which design facilitates and fosters the culture of sharing we formed teams and used various methods to identify experiential, behavioral, and subject-related patterns within the culture of sharing.  Through affinity diagramming my teammates –Hayley Hughes, Alexandria Jarvis, and Hao Li– and I prioritized complex relationship among social, economic, political, and technological factors that influence current sharing norms, values, and identities; lastly, we described the role design plays in the emergence of the culture of sharing.

  • Contextualizing the Culture of Sharing
  • Contextualizing the Culture of Sharing
  • Contextualizing the Culture of Sharing

Trend analysis diagram organized according to the 9 leverage points (Meadows, 2009) on how design intervened with the aim of facilitating change.

Outcomes (Theorization)

The final outcome is the generation of a design principle, process, and design research method to support the design of sharing platforms. I proposed a principle to guide the design of systems for sharing; diagrammed a design process to support the design of systems for sharing; proposed a research method and sketched a research instrument to inform the design of systems for sharing.

Design Principle Statement:
Increase accessibility in educational communities for people with physical impairments, facilitating access and interaction of people with cerebral palsy to the educational system through technology.

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Principle’s goals and progression.


  • Adaptability of the system determined by the general ability level of the group.
  • Build platforms that develop and change within self-evolving communities.
  • Participants engage collective rather than individual behavior.
  • Participants have a sense of belonging within the community.
  • The development of the system is based on feedback of community members.


  • Accommodate and customize the system according to participant needs and wants.
  • Incremental evolutionary change.
  • The use of a structured framework that can respond to change.
  • Levels of passion and knowledge.
  • Participants work collectively to encourage each other.
  • In case of utilization of software systems, they must comply with World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Accessibility Guidelines.
  • Depending of the level of engagement of the participant, a different method should be used.

Design Process Statement:
The design process would support the design of systems for educational accessibility. In the diagram shown detailing stages, sections, or increments that collectively make up the process; and the direction that people and information travel through the process.

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Diagram of the Design Process to support the design of systems for educational accessibility


Design Researcher, as a facilitator in evaluation and implementation phases.

System Architect, participates in the evaluation and analysis establishing the structure of a system.

Designer Practitioner, works with the participants and the system architect at the analysis and the contextualizing phases.

Developer, works with the designer in the contextualizing phase. Performs the core implementation and test functionality of the solution. Has participation in release and post-release activities.

Lead Participant, participants who have already explored innovative ways to get things done and are willing to share their approaches with others.

Regular participant, participant with a limited level of engagement. Will help to recognize the reasons why they have that level of engagement.

Newcomer Participant, a participant that have recently joined the system and can give valuable feedback especially on how difficult is for them to use it.

Potential Participant, people who are most likely to use the system but they not know it and/or are using an alternative.



Contextualization, through prototyping divergent  look & feel




Analysis, through revealing unanticipated visual communication needs




Evaluation of participants’ sensory inputs




Implementation and accessibility testing.


Design Method:
Reveal Unanticipated Visual Communication Needs.

Evaluate design’s accessibility at every stage of the process through proactive user feedback using a specific methods on participants with different levels of engagement to produce accumulative levels of accessible design. The method selected belongs to the Analysis Phase of the process.


Incorporate the best aspects of each design phase in the implementation stage. Change the tasks and environment not the people.

Roles Involved:

  • New comer member.
  • System Architect.
  • Design Practitioner.

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This visualization of the instrument is a tutorial to learn how to use gestures and develop fine motor skills..


Wizard of Oz to test device concepts, techniques, suggested functionality, and identify new comer’s assumptions and reveal unanticipated visual communication needs. This technique is User-based evaluation of unimplemented technology where, a person or team is simulating some or all the responses of the system (Source


Due to the nature of the principle, which is meant to be for people who have a physical impairment and are not currently accessing the system, the team may need to simulate some or all aspects of the system, so it will be performed in person.


The team simulates the behavior of a theoretical educational computer application without the participant’s knowledge. The participants will receive a serie of tasks to perform. The team will provide missing system functionality which will be assessed in the Contextualizing Phase. (See figure below)

Anticipated Results:

Testing and fixing before implementation phase to prevent overburdening any of the stakeholders. The system and the participant grow together.