Designing in the Public Square

Design in the Public Square: Supporting Cooperative Assistive Technology Design Through Public Mixed-Ability Collaboration (CSCW 2019)

Mark. S. Baldwin, Sen H Hirano, Jennifer Mankoff, Gillian Hayes

From the white cane to the smartphone, technology has been an effective tool for broadening blind and low vision participation in a sighted world. In the face of this increased participation, individuals with visual impairments remain on the periphery of most sight-first activities. In this paper, we describe a multi-month public-facing co-design engagement with an organization that supports blind and low vision outrigger paddling. Using a mixed-ability design team, we developed an inexpensive cooperative outrigger paddling system, called DEVICE, that shares control between sighted and visually impaired paddlers. The results suggest that public design, a DIY (do-it-yourself) stance, and attentiveness to shared physical experiences, represent key strategies for creating assistive technologies that support shared experiences.

A close-up of version three of the CoOP system mounted to the rudder assembly and the transmitter
used to control the rudder (right corner).
Shows 5 iterations of the CoOP system, each of which is progressively less bulky, and more integrated (the first is strapped on for example and the last is more integrated).
The design evolution of the CoOP system in order of iteration from left to right.

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