New literacy theories for participatory design: lessons from three design cases with Australian Aboriginal communities
Literacy and power are closely entwined, and not all literacy practices are equally supported and recognised within dominant discourses and political structures. Technology design offers new possibilities for supporting culturally-diverse literacy practices, including the preservation and maintenance of endangered languages. While literacy is an inherent aspect of design work, theories of literacy as a social practice encompassing a variety of different senses and modes of expression are under-utilised within the design community. We survey the current landscape on literacy and design, and illustrate how six lenses of new literacy theory articulated by Kathy Mills  can support us to be more attentive to the literacy practices enacted in design through their application to three design cases with Australian Aboriginal communities. Finally, we reflect on our own Digital Community Noticeboard project to contribute four ways that new literacy theory can inform participatory design.