One Size Does Not Fit All—Facilitating Participation of People with Intellectual Disability in Design of Digital Technology
Mugula Chris Safari, Sofie Wass, Elin Thygesen


While marginalized groups are increasingly involved in design processes, established methods and techniques require several cognitive and sensory abilities that may not fit when designing with people with intellectual disabilities. Earlier research on design of technology with people with intellectual disabilities has primarily focused on the technological outcomes and less on the techniques and adjustments made by facilitators. In this study, we explore facilitators’ experiences of supporting adults and younger adults with intellectual disabilities during participation in digital technology design. The facilitators and users in this study participated in the design of a digital self-reflective career tool and a digital transport support tool. We conducted individual interviews with facilitators who had participated in various design activities and thematically analyzed the data. The findings show that facilitators focus on adapting to individual needs, experience a process of personal development, and learned by doing throughout the design activities. We argue that while the role of facilitating was duty- and task-oriented and challenging, the facilitators also experienced several essential gains. Experienced gains include the development of design-related knowledge, professional development, and a change in attitudes toward people with intellectual disability. This paper provides recommendations for guiding facilitators, considering both structural and individual needs, and offers insight into lessons learned.

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