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Supporting Inclusion and Social Experiences through Technology Design

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Mari Huhtala.

Historically, in healthcare and accessibility contexts, a disability was often regarded as a functional limitation or even ‘deficit’ in need of overcoming. This has led to much research in the field of Human-Computer Interaction to focus on assisting people through tools that address the ‘problems’ associated with ill-health or disability by providing access to treatment, improving the accessibility of certain tasks, and promoting personal change and ideas of independent living. In this talk, I take a different orientation to disability that aligns with a social model of disability and considers a person’s (dis)ability not as something that is fixed or determined alone through the body (e.g. a physical or mental impairment), but instead as created through a person’s interactions within their environment. For technology design, this suggests then to bring closer considerations to the way in which people construct their own abilities in different situations and how this can often involve other people. In this talk, I will draw on findings of two case studies that involved people with vision impairments to show how they constructed their own abilities in different situations; how such processes are often accomplished through, and bound up with, other people and a person’s social experiences; and how technology can be designed to play an important part in assisting such constructions of ability, and thereby can serve to extend peoples’ capabilities.

This talk is part of the Engineering Design Centre Seminars series.

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