University of Oulu

Sumita Sharma, Tero Avellan, Juhani Linna, Krishnaveni Achary, Markku Turunen, Jaakko Hakulinen, and Blessin Varkey. 2020. Socio-Technical Aspirations for Children with Special Needs: A Study in Two Locations – India and Finland. ACM Trans. Access. Comput. 13, 3, Article 13 (August 2020), 27 pages. DOI:

Socio-technical aspirations for children with special needs : a study in two locations — India and Finland

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Author: Sharma, Sumita1; Avellan, Tero2; Linna, Juhani2;
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Finland
2Tampere University, Finland
3University of Delhi, India
4Tamana NGO, India
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Association for Computing Machinery, 2020
Publish Date: 2021-02-19


Society’s expectations and assistance for children with special needs is rooted in its cultural, societal, and political backdrop. Previous work on the role of culture on assistive or adaptive technology design for children with special needs identified a three-part framework: lifestyle, socio-technical infrastructure, and monetary and informational resources. Through our work in India, we proposed a fourth dimension to this framework: socio-technical aspirations. We defined socio-technical aspirations as the individual- or community-driven ambition and desire to own or use a specific technology for personal benefit or societal acceptance or both. In Finland, we interviewed four parents of children enrolled in a rehabilitation program, with the aim to understand their expectations from and current usage of technology. Findings from Finland reveal a desire for technology for children with special needs to be more engaging than what is currently available. We also identified several attributes that can contribute to socio-technical aspirations in a given context, including but not limited to: the level of inclusiveness supported in the school, which directly affects how technology is viewed with respect to the social acceptance it provides; the socio-technical aspirations of the child and how they are perceived and met by the parents and teachers; and previous technology experience of the various stakeholders involved in raising a child with special needs, which determines their attitude toward technology for not only for themselves but also for the child. In this article, we validate the dimension of socio-technical aspirations to strengthen our case for incorporating stakeholder’s socio-technical aspirations for technology designed or adapted for children with special needs.

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Series: ACM transactions on accessible computing
ISSN: 1936-7228
ISSN-E: 1936-7236
ISSN-L: 1936-7228
Volume: 13
Issue: 3
Article number: 13
DOI: 10.1145/3396076
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 113 Computer and information sciences
Copyright information: © 2020 Copyright held by the owner/author(s). Publication rights licensed to ACM. 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 ACM Transactions on Accessible Computing,