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Yoram Chisik <[log in to unmask]>
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Yoram Chisik <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 13 Sep 2017 04:46:49 -0400
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There is still time to submit your thoughts to the kids and kitties workshop at ACI 2017. Email me if you are interested but too busy with a CHI submission to worry about a workshop deadline we can work things out :)


Of Kittens and Kiddies: Reflections on Participatory Design with Small Animals and Small Humans
Workshop at Fourth International Conference on Animal Computer Interaction
 (ACI 2017), Milton Keynes, UK , 21 November 2017


Participatory design practitioners seek to empower, add value, and in general strive to broaden the perspective and increase the level of empathy in design for every aspect of life, by giving specific and often under represented user groups, such as children, the physically challenged and the elderly a voice in the design process.

Participatory designers do not presume to know what goes on inside the mind of their target users; instead, they seek and generate ideas through observation, interaction and collaboration with members of the target user group in the field and the lab in order to create solutions that address needs and desires from the user perspective.

Animal Computer Interaction (ACI) seeks to extend the field of user centered design beyond the human species by exploring the interaction between animals and technology, and developing participatory frameworks and protocols for the design of technology intended for animals. In this respect ACI offers important opportunities for comparison and reflection on the theory and practice of participatory design.  Working with animals poses many of the same challenges that designers encounter when working with children, whereby researchers have to account for the participants’ specific cognitive capabilities at particular developmental stages, and contend with limited attention spans and communication barriers.

In the field of Interaction Design with Children (IDC) the degree to which children can effectively express themselves and therefore effectively take part in a participatory design process varies greatly with age and according to developmental parameters. To compound matters, the meaning of what counts as participation, what is the exact nature of the role played by participants (e.g. user, informant, co-designer) and how much voice is actually given to them in the design process is the subject of an ongoing debate in the community.

With this workshop we aim to bring together researchers from the fields of animal and child computer interaction as well as those working with other specific user groups, in order to contrast the challenges, they face, the methods they use and the lessons they have learnt so far.  We believe the juxtaposition of animals and children to be potentially controversial but at the same time, and partly because of its controversy, we argue that it provides a unique lens through which we can examine core notions such as those of participant and participation beyond preconceptions surrounding distinctions of species or age. We propose that this juxtaposition will enable researchers to gain a better understanding of participatory design with children and animals as a practice and research approach, and of the values that participatory design brings to each of the research communities respectively as well as to the broader research and design community more broadly.

Consistent with the theme of ACI2017, we believe that a better understanding of participatory design as a practice and as a research approach could foster the development of more empathic, and methodologically and ethically appropriate forms of engagement between researchers and those research participants whose needs and wants might otherwise not be represented during the design process.


The workshop has the following main goals:

(1) To build a community of researchers engaged in work related to interaction design with children, animals or both, who are interested in comparing the two domains.

(2) To share experiences of designing for and with animals and children, and identify similarities and differences in the process, with a focus on related challenges, so that individual insights can benefit the community’s reflection on participatory design as a whole.

(3) To identify opportunities, and develop an agenda, for further research and interdisciplinary collaborations.

(4) To share the reflections of the workshop participants with the wider community, via the publication of a journal article or a journal special issue.

Overall, we expect that the workshop will constitute the basis for the development of a long-lasting working group devoted to the exploration of issues related to participatory design through the lens of animal and child computer interaction.


We invite interested researchers to submit a short (1-4 pages) position paper providing a brief overview of your work with children, animals or both and your thoughts on the juxtaposition of participatory design with animals and children.  Although the expertise of the organizers is in working with children and animals and thus the workshop is focused around these two communities we welcome submissions from researchers working with other populations with unique needs and will adapt the structure of the workshop based on the disciplinary scope of the submission received.


Submission deadline: September 17, 2017 
Acceptance notification: September 20, 2017
Workshop day:  November 21, 2017 

Yoram Chisik, Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute (M-ITI). 
Clara Mancini, The Open University

More details can be found at:

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