An Empathic Design Approach to an Augmented Gymnasium in a Special Needs School Setting
Issey Takahashi, Mika Oki, Baptiste Bourreau, Itaru Kitahara, Kenji Suzuki


In this paper, we describe a case study of an empathic design approach for designing a technology-assisted teaching in a special needs school setting with involvement of teachers and their students. An advanced design platform with a large-scale spatial augmented and mixed reality system was installed in the gymnasium of the school to enhance the teachers’ insights toward a solution. Through careful design consultations with the teachers in the platform, we designed a full-body interactive learning game for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), which intends to keep their attention focused on the content provided for learning. A total of 5 researchers, 21 teachers, and 64 students were involved in the study. Three observations, three workshops, six meetings, and two feasibility studies were conducted with the participants in the case study. The game was evaluated in a viability testing in cooperation with 23 children (20 males and 3 females, mild/moderate ASD, 6-12 years-old). The result verified that 95.7 % of the children succeeded in implementing the task provided in the game, which indicated that the game has the potential to help them focus their attention on learning by introducing an element of fun. The case study strengthened the importance of an empathic design approach that relocates a design platform from researchers’ environment to a special needs school setting for designing a technology-assisted teaching for children with ASD. The design approach helped the study participants learn more about the problems, needs, and strengths of the children, and provided an appropriate solution together with technology.

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