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"Clara.Mancini" <[log in to unmask]>
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Wed, 26 Apr 2017 20:49:12 +0000
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Of Kittens and Kiddies: Reflections on Participatory Design with Small Animals and Small Humans
Workshop at Interaction Design and Children Conference (IDC 2017), Stanford, California, USA, 27 June 2017


In the IDC community we do not presume to know what goes on inside a child’s mind, we seek and generate ideas through observation, interaction and collaboration with children in the field and the lab to create solutions that address needs and desires from the child perspective.

IDCers seek to empower, add value, and in general strive to broaden the perspective and increase the level of empathy in design for every aspect in the life of a child, by giving children a voice in the design process.

The degrees in which children can effectively express themselves and therefore participate in a participatory design process varies greatly with age and 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.

The emerging field of Animal-Computer Interaction (ACI) seeks to extend the field of user centered design to the animal kingdom 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.  Indeed, working with animals poses many of the same challenges that designers encounter when working with children, having to account for the participants’ specific cognitive capabilities at particular developmental stages, and contend with limited attention spans and communication barriers.

With this workshop we aim to bring together researchers from the fields of animal and child computer interaction, 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 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 it brings to each of the research communities on their own and the broader research and design community.


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 (2-4 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.


Submission deadline: May 9, 2017
Acceptance notification: May 14, 2017
Workshop day:  June 27, 2017

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

More details can be found at:

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