Development of our design challenge

Our last design challenge was „how might we help society to drop down social and environmental barriers, because that is what disables people.“

We understood that the word society is too big in this context and we need to narrow it down. So we asked ourselves what is our target group? Where would it be most useful to start with all our gained insights? We decided to focus on children.

Keeping in mind the insights we gained from Raul Krauthausen, that because of a non barrier-free environment, there won’t be meetings with people with and without disabilities. This leads to prejudices and fears. It was our goal to work on accessibility in order to make meetings happen. Thus, our target is a barrier-free enviroment. In connection to children, the best place to start is the playground.

On a barrier-free playground children with and without disabilities can play together and meet each other. This way we could counteract fears of contacts in an early age/stage.

The idea was to give children with and without disabilities the opportunity to play together on one drive. Our goal was to develop an inclusive device, which two children with disabilities, two without or one with and one without disabilities, could use and have fun with.

We started to make further interviews with kids and their children, to gain more insights in this matter.

Risks of overdetermination

I follow your work from a distance with great interest.

I think you will soon run into an issue of determination. What I mean by this is: the simplest the “device”, the more the ways in which it can be used, the broader the range of abilities it accommodates. Take, for example, plasticine:

You can do all sorts of stuff with it, from just playfully messing around to veritable art. So, in a way it is perfectly inclusive. But if you ever tried to play with plasticine with someone else, you know that disabilities are by no means the only important differentiator: children of different ages, for example, will want to do different things with plasticine. Everyone likes it (it is accessible for everyone), but it does not necessarily bring people together. It appears that accessibility does not lead per se to socialization.

Your response might be to design in such a way as to restrict the ways to interact with the artefact. For example, there are not many things you can do with a merry-go-round (though children do try!). But then, you risk overdetermining the interaction, making your work uninteresting for everyone!

Hmm, interesting problem! Looking forward to your next moves.