[ACCESSIMAP] Field-study on Education for Children Living with Visual Impairements

Between November 2014 and until June 2016, I was to conduct a field study in a french specialized institute for children living with visual impairments. I aimed at a better understanding of learning and teaching practices for children living with visual impairments, which could improve the design process in the ANR project Accessimap. Besides participant observations and interviews, I designed several probes during the course of those two years.

field-study

The probes

To gather feedback on early research questions, I designed several probes.

probes

The tactile globe helped us investigating children's tactile perception of the material, but also larger implications for caretakers' practices. It also helped crafting design guidelines for current and future artifacts. As for the tactile and audio wood-cut map, it provided various audio cues: ocean sounds, songs... We aimed at fostering children creativity and customization of educative technologies. They reacted very positively to that probe, proposing modifications, explaining about their learning preferences, telling stories related to the points of interest... Finally, the audio recording app aimed at providing them with the direct means to produce their own media. They used it to engage in social games, but also for conveying various informations about space (such as the volume of a room, based on how their voices echoed).

Main Results

Besides design recommendations that were summarized in the article about MapSense, a multi-sensory, DIY, interactive map, this field study allowed us to precisely describe the processes leading to the definition of children's abilities by caretakers. They build upon their understanding of children's socio-cultural origins, physical abilities (and outcomes in similar cases) and familial environment to anticipate children future and schooling needs. We identified autonomy as the main value for children's education-autonomy being framed as "knowing oneself and oneself's limits." It also deepened our understanding of children's experience of disability.

Our presence and participation also helped teachers to develop "techno-pedagogical" skills, and to involve them in the design of classroom technologies.

Furthermore, we identified four categories of artefacts used to acquire spatial skills: objects used to develop body perception, for spatial perception (such as sticks), for spatial manipulation and for spatial representation.