University of Oulu

Sharma, S., Achary, K., Kinnula, M., Norouzi, B., Kinnula, H., Iivari, N., Ventä-Olkkonen, L., & Holappa, J. (2022). To Empower or Provoke? Exploring approaches for participatory design at schools for neurodiverse individuals in India. International Journal of Child-Computer Interaction, 34, 100521.

To Empower or Provoke? : Exploring approaches for participatory design at schools for neurodiverse individuals in India

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Author: Sharma, Sumita1; Achary, Krishnaveni2; Kinnula, Marianne1;
Organizations: 1INTERACT Research Unit, ITEE, University of Oulu, Finland
2Independent Researcher
3Fab Lab Oulu, University of Oulu, Finland
4University of Helsinki, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-12-21


As we push the boundaries of participatory design (PD) to empower children across the world, barriers to participation for those currently underserved require further attention. This includes neurodiverse individuals at special schools in India, whose day-to-day experiences are heavily influenced by the larger socio-cultural context of the schools comprising diverse stakeholders with diverse agendas and motivations. In this paper, we consider how-to PD at special schools in India. Employing the lenses of genuine participation and cultural translation, we critically examine two design projects with neurodiverse individuals: a gesture-based application to promote joint attention and using a mobile app to promote composting and entrepreneurial skills. We identified several challenges for adapting PD to the context of special schools in India. Reflecting on our experiences and coupled with previous literature on PD with similar contexts, we suggest potential solutions for these challenges. This includes how-to negotiate roles and responsibilities among stakeholders, handle conflicts among stakeholders’ socio-technical aspirations, balance power differentials and censorships, and identify possibilities for long-term real-world impact. Our work paves the way to adapt PD, from a provocation or privilege to a possibility, to empower neurodiverse individuals in all corners of the world.

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Series: International journal of child-computer interaction
ISSN: 2212-8689
ISSN-E: 2212-8697
ISSN-L: 2212-8689
Volume: 34
Article number: 100521
DOI: 10.1016/j.ijcci.2022.100521
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 113 Computer and information sciences
Funding: This research is connected to the Participatory AI with Schoolchildren (PAIZ) project and Make-A-Difference project (MAD) at the INTERACT Research Unit, and the GenZ project, a strategic profiling project in human sciences at the University of Oulu. The projects are supported by the Academy of Finland (Grant 340603, Grant 318930, and Grant 324685) and the University of Oulu .
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 340603
Detailed Information: 340603 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
324685 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2022 The Author(s). This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (