Interpersonal expression in the special educational needs classroom: An experience-centred design case study

Abigail Durrant*, Jonathan Hook, Roisin McNaney, Keir Williams, Thomas Smith, Tony Stockman, Patrick Olivier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This paper describes our Experience-Centered Design (ECD) enquiry into the current and potential role of digital photography to support interpersonal expression in a class of children (aged 11-15 years) at a mixed special education needs school. Presented as a case study, we describe five classroom-based creative workshops that engaged pupils with a broad range of complex special needs, and classroom staff. From these workshops, we generated a set of qualitative considerations for the design of digital photographic tools to support interpersonal expression in this setting. Additionally, we present the evaluation of a photo-sorting system we developed in response to our workshop findings and evaluated in the school over a period of 12 months. Our case study demonstrates how an ECD approach can guide a creative interaction design process in a special education needs setting, supporting interaction designers in empathising and responding pragmatically to the complex and dynamic interactions at play between the stakeholders. We further discuss design research approaches to user groups in such settings, and consolidate our insights about conducting research through design for social inclusion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-47
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Child-Computer Interaction
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to acknowledge the RCUK Social Inclusion through the Digital Economy (SiDE) project (grant no. EP/G066019/1 ) and the ESRC Embodied Selves in Transition project (grant no. ES/I008071/1 ) for funding; and Microsoft Research for providing .NET Gadgeteer components for our design work. We sincerely thank the staff and pupils of the anonymised school that we partnered with for their contributions to and support of this study. Thanks extend to David Kirk for proof reading and advice.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier B.V.

Copyright 2016 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

Structured keywords

  • Digital Health


  • Child-computer interaction
  • Digital photography
  • Experience-centred design
  • Inclusive design
  • Special educational needs
  • Universal design


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