Modelling the roles of designers and teaching staff when doing participatory design with children in special education

W. Barendregt, Peter Börjesson, Eva Eriksson, O. Torgersson, M.M. Bekker, Helle Marie Skovbjerg

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In this paper we focus on the relational work when doing PD with
children in special education as a hybrid practice, meaning that the
designer aims to perform design activities with children in their
own environment. Based on the experiences of a three-year project
in a special education school, we first present a two-dimensional
model for ’who participates with whom in what’, describing the
agency that the designer may need to both plan and execute design
activities in relation to the teachers and the children. Thereafter,
we relate those two dimensions to different kinds of authority that
the designer might wish to have and avoid to have, and provide
examples of the backstage work with children and teaching staff
that may occur in order to gain the right kind of authority. Finally,
we discuss the designer’s relational work to balance the different
kinds of authority and what may happen if there are mismatches
between the different stakeholders’ expectations about authority.
While we are aware that it is not possible for a designer to precisely
foresee how their presence in a special education school will play
out, this paper aims to provide a critical reflection on our participatory
practices which may help other designers to be prepared
for the situations they may encounter in their own work in special
education schools.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationParticipatory Design Conference
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4503-6371-6
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventPDC '18, 15th Participatory Design Conference - Hasselt/Genk, Belgium
Duration: 20 Aug 201824 Aug 2018


ConferencePDC '18, 15th Participatory Design Conference


  • participatory design
  • children
  • teachers
  • special education
  • relationships
  • hybrid practice

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