Mobility, in some form or another, drives our exploration of, and participation in, the world around us. Increasingly, scholars and rehabilitation professionals are recognizing mobility as a basic human right, and endorsing the efficacy of early powered mobility experiences for children with mobility impairments in order to foster independence, promote socialization with peers, and facilitate participation in family and community life. However, the relationship between technology provision, the mobility industry, and user-centered design, when considered in the context of lived experiences of children with mobility impairments and their families, is complex and understudied. Perceptions of these experiences from children’s own points of view are especially limited. This presentation will describe a unique technology hacking initiative developed at the University of Delaware called Go Baby Go and introduce research that has emerged from the Go Baby Go program, including work that explores child and family experiences with technology design and the provision of mobility devices.
This data offers perspectives that may inform stakeholders who are seeking or developing technology solutions for people with disabilities. Incorporating these perspectives is critical in advancing the features of mobility devices and provision practices, and is essential in promoting further commitment to mobility advocacy, environmental and attitudinal accessibility, and more explicit child/family involvement in all phases of user-centered design.
Heather earned her Bachelor of Science and Master’s in Physical Therapy from Marquette University. She practiced pediatric physical therapy full-time until 2010, when she began teaching in the DPT program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Earlier this year, Heather earned her PhD in Disability Studies and a Certificate in Assistive Technology from UIC. She joined UW last month as a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Kat Steele’s Ability & Innovation Lab in Mechanical Engineering. Her research interests involve the qualitative appraisal of user experiences with technology, user-centered design, and exploring how alternative models of disability and a social justice approach may be applied to assistive technology provision and rehabilitation.