Empowering young adults on the autistic spectrum: Reframing assistive technology through design

Jelle van Dijk, Melina Kopke, Niels van Huizen, Loes van Uffelen, Laura Beunk

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

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    Abstract

    Increasingly, assistive technologies are designed to ‘empower’ people with cognitive and social challenges. But what does it mean to say technology
    empowers? In a four-year participatory Research-through-Design project we addressed this question. Eleven autistic young adults participated in designing MyDayLight: an IoT system supporting self-management of domestic activities. Contextual inquiry, co-design, design reflection, prototype deployment and embodied interaction theory were woven together in an iterative reflective process. This allowed us to critically address certain background assumptions that typically underly common understanding of assistive technologies. We present three reframings of our evolving concept of ‘empowering technology’:
    1) From ‘planned reminder’ to ‘situated attention grabber’
    2) From ‘supporting action’ to ‘scaffolding developing your own supportive environment’
    4) From ‘assistive product’, to ‘co-design tool in a larger transformational process’. Instead of supporting ‘self-sufficiency’, MyDayLight expresses
    a developmental-experiential interpretation of empowerment. It helps users experiment with reconfiguring their own environment, reflect on their experiences and gradually develop more grip on life. The design artifacts enabled young adults on the spectrum and their care-givers to share, question- and reframe implicitly held understandings and to imagine and explore new ways for assistive technology to play an empowering role in a person’s life-world.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages14
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019
    Event4th RTD Conference: Design United - Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam, Netherlands
    Duration: 19 Mar 201922 Mar 2019
    Conference number: 4
    http://researchthroughdesign.org/2019/

    Conference

    Conference4th RTD Conference: Design United
    Abbreviated titleRTD 2019
    CountryNetherlands
    CityRotterdam
    Period19/03/1922/03/19
    Internet address

    Keywords

    • Empowerment
    • Technology
    • Co-design
    • Participatory Design
    • Embodied interaction

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  • Cite this

    van Dijk, J., Kopke, M., van Huizen, N., van Uffelen, L., & Beunk, L. (2019). Empowering young adults on the autistic spectrum: Reframing assistive technology through design. Paper presented at 4th RTD Conference: Design United, Rotterdam, Netherlands.