Living Labs and Open Toolkit for the co-design of accessible IT systems and tools

01/04/21 to 31/03/22

One of the key barriers to inclusive web accessibility is the stereotyping of people with cognitive disabilities as “the problem”. Technology is then framed as an intervention imposed from above that will fix the problem. In this situation, the needs of people with cognitive impairments are often only superficially taken into account (Schulz et. al., 2015). There is a significant body of evidence to show that technology designers and developers have little or no knowledge of the challenges people with cognitive disabilities face when using technologies (Disability Rights Commission, 2004). This is related to the lack of scientific evidence on the relation between cognitive disability and technology (Barnard and Beyer, 2009), which is in turn linked to the fact that people with cognitive disabilities very rarely participate in research, design or development (Borg et. al., 2015). Another related issue is that people with cognitive impairments are frequently bundled together as a homogenous group, so that designers and developers impose a “one size fits all” solution not only on a diverse spectrum of people whose digital challenges and needs stem from varied and often complex origins but on people who present with a wide spectrum – and intensity – of impairment, from very mild to very severe (Neven, 2010; Collings et. al., 2018).

Against this background, the overarching aim of the project is to:

Aggregate and valorize the insights and findings of different “research lenses” on the relationship between cognitive disabilities and digital inclusion into actionable experimentation spaces, in order to support inclusive accessibility by tailoring design to the settings in which people with cognitive disabilities engage with digital technologies in their everyday “lifeworld”.

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