University of Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli”
University of Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli”
University of Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli”
Palabras claves: diseño inclusivo, percepción sensorial, transferimento tecnológico, humanidad digital, experiecia cultural
Key words: inclusive design, sensory perception, technology transfer, digital humanity, cultural experience
From the current reconnaissance of the conditions of fruition and accessibility, it is evident that until nowadays also the objects of use are designed and made irresponsibly. The major problem is that scientific and technological progress has a power of attraction and those who design forget a major aspect: move towards other people.
The European Community with the 2000-2020 program-strategic lines has also confirmed the adoption of regulatory measures to ensure the integration of the principle of accessibility and the «design for all» in the education and training programs for the interested professions to promote the development of the EU assistive technology market.
The contribution illustrates the experimentation work in progress, regarding to the configuration of a new multisensory system, designed to restore the formal and figurative perception of images, through aptic sensations that can enhance the educational experience of children with visual-sensory special needs.
In order to optimize, innovate and strengthen the design process, the research activities concerned the deepening of knowledge and the identification of design principles and methods of social inclusion – tangible and intangible – in a connection route and integration between different disciplinary languages.
In this path through the discipline of the Industrial Design and from the methodological experience and the design experiments, it has been possible to implement an action of communication, interaction and connection between the different disciplinary areas through a dynamic and inclusive vision.
The new multisensory system for school learning has been conceived as part of a didactic design exercise faced during the master’s degree course in «Design for Innovation» and was subsequently deepened and developed during the graduate thesis in the area of Computer and Electronics Engineering at the University of Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli”.
The aim of the work was to provide an answer related to diversity, through the realization of solutions to respond to visually special needs, in relation to image decoding and content understanding.
In summary, the developed concept represents a technological product-system that can help the learning and acquisition of images through tactile perception. The system consists of an aptic cover composed of a matrix of movable and tactile «mini-keys» that is overlapping to a portable touchscreen. In addition, the system has an integrated audio system, an external Qwerty and/or Braille headboard, and a printer for the production of relief media in reusable material.
The purpose was to provide a tool for the perception of two-dimensional content of virtual images, promoting the school learning and the cultural experience of visually-impaired children. The system allows interpreting, creating and manipulating images by press on «mini-keys», comparable to a set of «touch pixels». This allows us to mediate intangible screen contents such as iconographic and photographic images, in the physical mode of the tactile device, and vice versa, by favouring a creative and responsive inclusion approach to improving learning experience.
The activities involved, at a later stage, the development of the implementation system, through the elaboration of a software capable of reading the images of the touchscreen, connected to the matrix of «mini-keys» with micro sensors and a transducer. This solution, depending on the wavelength of the color transmitted by the display images, allows you to operate according to different heights, the raising or lowering of the «mini-keys», for the configuration of various images that are sensitive to touch.
- Inclusive Design Experiences: New Aptic Interface System
In the contemporary society, considering the relational and communicative aspects of users cannot ignore to imagine a reality configured in the virtual and free communication of the word wide web (Rifkin, 2003).
An accurate analysis of psycho-pedagogic specificities has shown that attention to children in their early years is crucial for their future cognitive and behavioural development, and as the relationship with the physical and social environment, represents the result of an active exchange between external factors and their core knowledge (Barrouillet, 2015: 1-12).
From the research emerged the need to conceive a new system, which interface was designed to return the formal and figurative perception of images, through aptic sensations, that can enhance the educational experience of children with visually specific needs.
At present, consider the relational and communicative aspects of individuals, cannot ignore imagining a reality configured in the virtual and digital systems. Currently, special voice synthesis software such as Jaws for Windows, which uses the audio system integrated to the computer to drive the user in the Windows environment allows reading the screen, and accessing and browsing the content on the web (other similar software are for example Windows Eyes, Out Spoken, Virgo). Although, these programs are well integrate with Braille language systems, they have limits in image communication, since they only allow voice synthesis.
The global issues for the development of communication and the programs for school learning, introduce to a greater extent information technology, which are tools of information, knowledge, and learning. According to this view, the analysis of the special needs of users with sensory issues, as blind and visually impaired persons, it brings according to a holistic view an improvement in inclusion and quality of experience for everyone.
In the design stage, the study of emotions and perceptions is relevant as they affect actions of people, their expectations, and their plans, with respect to the products they meet and which they relate.
«In fact, adopting the new way of seeing the user, the designer becomes an observer who, thanks to his own sensitivity and skills, must be able to interpret the active story of people» (Rizzo, 2009).
Therefore, the inclusive methodology has become a tool capable to transfer, through scientific references, logic and systemicity to the design of the new interface system for school education.
A design methodology that placed man at the center of the design process and in which the role of the designer becomes complex because, in addition to providing a formal value to the product and being a knowledgeable technician, he must be an attentive observer of the reality surrounding him to interpret the experience and the lived of people by also using the support of cognitive sciences.
In order to configure the new multisensory interface system, it was defined the methodological-design framework. It was carried out through the mapping of needs and the identification of the target from the study of statistical and regulatory requirement data, regarding the typologies and the distribution of sensory disabilities, further to the phases of sensorial evolution of children and their learning moments. In addition, the national-community regulations was analysed and have been deepened the types of disability to which the project was supposed to respond.
From the verification and interpretation of results, it was defined the framework of the requirements relating to consolidated and new needs. As consolidated needs we can mention the mastery of the self, the need for assistance in the moment of learning and the perception of security and support for orientation in surrounding environments. While, as new needs, we could consider the need to interact through the web, interpret and understand the iconographic and photographic images. These first results led to the definition of a brief design based on the features of the experience such as sensitivity, cognitive process, tactile-auditive perception, multisensoriality, curiosity education, the use of computer communication systems such as the web and the relative limits of understanding of iconographic content, and illustrated and photographic images. Subsequently, a mapping and analysis of inclusive technology systems and auxiliary devices for users with specific needs of visual type were developed. With the configuration and compilation of analytical tools, a case study comparison was made, highlighting the critical issues.
Specifically, the evaluation was based on Universal Design principles: equitable use (usable by people with different abilities), flexibility (adaptable to different personal preferences and abilities), simplicity and intuition (ease of understanding regardless of user experience, knowledge, language skills or current concentration level), perceptiveness (information required regardless of context conditions and user sensory abilities), tolerance for error (which minimizes hazards and adverse or accidental actions), low physical effort (usable with minimal fatigue), size and space for approach and use (appropriate size for use and manipulation, regardless of body size, posture or mobility). (Keates, 2007: 12). In addition, based on the Universal Design approach, and the analogues Universal Usability, Design For All, Inclusive Design and the latest applications for ICT systems, the research followed a holistic and inclusive process based on User-centered design. It adapts the guidelines and standards through interactive developments and focusing on users with different accessibility and usability requirements, process development phases, through empirical evaluations focused on the entire user experience (Schulz, Fuglerud, Arfwedson, Busch, 2014: 46). Therefore, desk research was verified on field through surveys, reports and interviews with experts responsible for the education of children with visual specific needs and experts working in new technologies.
The experimentation activities carried out, and currently underway, highlights the importance of implementing an approach in a multidisciplinary and intersectoral way, allowing a wide view of the content and the context of investigation.
Figura 1 Design prototype of Ha.D. project, developed during the university course Design e Innovazione held by Professor Mario Buono, by the student designers Carolina Amorino, Francesca Cascone, Salvatore Iavarone, 2013
Therefore, from the integration of the analyses carried out according to a design-oriented perspective, to the engineering implementation of the aptic interface implementation system, it was possible to reach synergistically the first results of the research. The system is currently in process of testing, so further developments can provide guidance on implementing new system configurations and implementations in response to the specific needs of blind people in the acquisition experience and imagines interpretation. The whole set of research actions may constitute hypotheses of technology transfer in different disciplines and areas of application. The activities will be carried out in line with the Horizon 2020 European Development Plan for the growth of innovative, inclusive and reflective societies.
BARROUILLET, P. (2015), «Theories of cognitive development: From Piaget to today», Developmental Review, vol. 38, pp .1–12.
Horizon 2020, the next funding programme for EU research, 2014-2020.
KEATES, S. (2007), Designing for Accessibility: a business guide to countering design exclusion, Mahwah, New jersey, United States of America, Lawrence Erlbaum Associatetes, Inc., p. 12.
RIFKIN, J. (2003), Economia all’Idrogeno, la creazione del Wordwide Energy Web e la redistribuzione del potere sula terra, Milano, Mondadori.
RIZZO, F. (2009), Strategie di co-design. Teorie, metodi e strumenti per progettare con gli utenti, Milano, Franco Angeli.
SCHULZ T., FUGLERUD K., ARFWEDSON, H., BUSCH, M. (2014), «A Case Study for Universal Design in the Internet of Things», Universal Design 2014: Three Days of Creativity and Diversity, Proceedings of the International Conference on Universal Design, Amsterdam, Netherlands, IOS Press BV, p. 46.
 Master’s degree course in Design per l’Innovazione, University of Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli”, Ha.D. project, developed during the university course “Design e Innovazione” held by Professor Mario Buono, by the student designers Carolina Amorino, Francesca Cascone, Salvatore Iavarone, 2013.
 Bachelor’s degree course in Ingegneria Elettronica e Informatica, University of Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli”, Interface for the visually impaired: Ha.D. design of the implementation system, development of degree thesis by Datiana Cascone, supervisor Professor Salvatore Pirozzi, 2015.
 Datiana Cascone (2015), Interface for the visually impaired: Ha.D. design of the implementation system, degree thesis in “Ingegneria Elettronica e Informatica”, Università degli Studi della Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli”, supervisor Professor Salvatore Pirozzi.
 Rizzo, F. (2009), Strategie di co-design. Teorie, metodi e strumenti per progettare con gli utenti, Franco Angeli, Milano. [Loosely translated by the authors].
 Horizon 2020, the next funding programme for EU research from 2014-2020.