University of Oulu

Sumita Sharma, Krishnaveni Achary, Marianne Kinnula, Netta Iivari, and Blessin Varkey. 2020. Gathering garbage or going green? shifting social perspectives to empower individuals with special needs. In Proceedings of the Interaction Design and Children Conference (IDC '20). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 311–322. DOI:

Gathering garbage or going green? : shifting social perspectives to empower individuals with special needs

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Author: Sharma, Sumita1; Achary, Krishnaveni2; Kinnula, Marianne1;
Organizations: 1INTERACT Research Unit, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Lady Irwin College, University of Delhi, New Delhi, India
3Tamana, New Delhi, India
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Association for Computing Machinery, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-11-23


Digital technologies are increasingly used with individuals with special needs for skill-building, social inclusion, and empowerment. However, different stakeholders involved in raising an individual with special needs have different and sometimes conflicting understanding of empowerment and motivations towards it. Using an empowerment framework, we collaboratively analyzed and critically reflected on the design and outcomes of three user studies conducted at a special needs school in New Delhi, India. The studies focused on learning how to make compost out of everyday kitchen waste, to assemble a solar lantern, and to buy groceries from a local store. Findings from the analysis provide insights into the complex socio-cultural conditions that enable, and in some cases limit, empowerment of individuals in an underserved and special needs context. We contribute to discussions on empowerment of children through design and use of digital technologies.

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ISBN Print: 978-1-4503-7981-6
Pages: 311 - 322
DOI: 10.1145/3392063.3394394
Host publication: IDC '20: Proceedings of the Interaction Design and Children Conference
Conference: Conference on Interaction Design and Children
Type of Publication: A4 Article in conference proceedings
Field of Science: 113 Computer and information sciences
Funding: We are grateful to the participants who took part in the user studies. This study was funded by Academy of Finland (Grant #324685, Make-a-Difference project) and by European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme (Grant #787476, COMnPLAY SCIENCE project. This research is connected to the GenZ project, a strategic profiling project in human sciences at the University of Oulu. The project is supported by the Academy of Finland (Grant #318930) and the University of Oulu.
EU Grant Number: (787476) CoM_n_Play-Science - Learning science the fun and creative way: coding, making, and play as vehicles for informal science learning in the 21st century
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 324685
Detailed Information: 324685 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
318930 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2020 Copyright is held by the owner/author(s). This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here for your personal use. Not for redistribution. The definitive Version of Record was published in IDC '20: Proceedings of the Interaction Design and Children Conference,