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


  • Wolmet Barendregt
  • Peter Börjesson
  • Eva Eriksson
  • Olof Torgersson
  • Tilde Bekker
  • Helle Marie Skovbjerg


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.

Full text at ACM





SESSION: Learning and education