Well Being 2013, Birmingham City University

Workshop and Keynote Address in inclusive design and wellbeing

Not to have confidence in one’s body is to lose confidence in oneself’

Simone de Beauvoir (1974)

Many people, either through disability or ageing, have limited opportunities to enjoy meaningful activities that promote full body movement and physical exercise. Immobility not only impacts on physical well being, but also personal independence and self-expression. The Touch Trust is a charity providing specialist creative movement programs for people with profound and multiple needs, inspiring people to connect with each other though the body. In recent years Cariad Interactive worked with Cardiff Metropolitan University and the Touch Trust to explore how motion-sensing technologies could promote user-led enjoyment of movement. Whilst we have adopted a mindful approach to designing, setting judgements and ambitions aside, working in partnership with therapists and end users has been a creative challenge for everyone involved. The Touch Trust programme is responsive to individual needs, alert to the emergence of self confidence, taking even the most tentative movement as a possibility for action. Technology on the other hand, can seem disembodied, homogeneous, and lacking in responsiveness.

The workshop invited delegates to review video footage in order to appreciate the need for appropriate inclusive design activities, and to think about how to incorporate influences from therapists and end users, in design for wellbeing. In trying out simple movement such as stretching, twisting, and combinations of these, the workshop enabled people to create flowing artworks that amplify bodily engagement. In this process of using technology to draw attention to actions our perception of disability was confronted.