Background information

Involving people with impairments in design and development is an important and timely topic in human-computer interaction. Several workshops have been organized at CHI and other HCI conferences, bringing  together researchers and designers working in this area to share experiences and best practices. These workshops confirmed the need of designers and researchers for dedicated tools and guidelines for involving people with impairments in design.  Also, they’ve indicated that a one-size-fits-all approach for such target groups is not feasible due to the highly situated character of codesigning with people with impairments.

In a recent article (2015) published in the journal CoDesign, a new approach for sharing experiences about codesign methods and techniques for involving people with impairments was suggested. This approach was inspired by the so-called method stories coined by Lee, which she refers to as the behind stories of methods, focusing attention to how empathic design methods are made to work in a specific, realistic design setting. Writing such method stories during the design process, Lee argues, helps researchers and designers to understand their users, the context of use and solution spaces. It documents the learning that is going on during the method making process.

In codesign, it is not uncommon that the final methodological approach only unfolds during the actual interaction with participants. This seems especially relevant when working with people with impairments, when the approach in a design process needs not only be adapted to the specific design situation, but also to the specific characteristics and current state of mind (e.g. mood, attention span, …) of the individual participants.

In addition to its original purpose, the concept of method stories may offer an excellent tool to publish not only the results of design research, but also to explicitly share the making of the methodological approach, including the considerations, decisions, trial & error procedures, adaptations to existing methods and techniques, etc. that led to the final approach used. As such, sharing what Lee has named the behind stories of methods could be an important step in the process of scientifically grounding the situated approach of empathic design methods for involving people with impairments in design.

This workshop aims to further explore how method stories could be employed within the domain of involving people with impairments in HCI research. The goal is to work towards a practical format for better exchange of (methodological) considerations between researchers and designers working with people with impairments. As such, the workshop has a methodological focus, aiming for better documentation within the challenging domain of involving people with impairments.