Exploring how a Wizzybug powered wheelchair can support play

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Little boy playing bat and ball while sat in his Wizzybug

This two year study was part of a larger four year project, “Disability and Community: Disengagement, disenfranchisement, disparity and dissent” funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, which explored disability and community, and how new technologies could change experiences of disability and community over time.

Who could benefit

The key beneficiaries for this project were people with disabilities themselves. The outcomes of the study provided some information which could help to improve service provision and quality of life for people with disabilities, not least by enabling the voices of people with disabilities to be heard as co-producers of the research.

The project also aimed to generate new insights and understandings across academic disciplines. In the first place, it was of benefit to academics working in the field of Disability Studies.

Design and development

We worked with participants to explore lived experiences of disability and their engagement with assistive technology and the knowledge that such experiences generate, and captured these in creative expression, including arts practice, play and performance.

We observed playful activities of young disabled children using Designability’s Wizzybug and their interactions with disabled and non-disabled peers, to see the degree to which new technologies could support play, social belonging and engagement. Moreover, we captured and communicated the lived and emotional experiences of young children with disabilities, and their families, in a creative and collaborative manner and explored the role of new technologies in supporting research with non‐conventional participants.

The research in this work stream was considered in relation to exploring play as an expressive form between children as community members by observing and capturing play as a means of incorporating the experiences of very young or non-verbal research participants and by exploring the conceptual links between ‘technology’ and ‘toy’ in relation to play, self-expression and group affinities (‘playing together’).