Outstanding Dissertation Award for Katta Spiel
Katta received the prestigious ACM SIGCHI award for the research on technology experience and autistic children.
The Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Computer Human Interaction (ACM SIGCHI) awarded Katta Spiel from the HCI Group the internationally renowned Outstanding Dissertation Award for their research on technology experience and autistic children. Geraldine Fitzpatrick supervised this work, Chris Frauenberger was head of this FWF project, and Hannes Kaufmann chair of the commission. Spiel’s work has been published in ToCHI, CHI, and PDC conferences (among others) and received several honorable mentions, two of which at CHI for core papers contributing to the thesis.
Participatory Design of Technology with Marginalised Groups
Katta Spiel’s dissertation represents significant scientific achievements that can be summarised as defining a new research area around technology experience and autistic children. Providing a new methodology for participatory evaluation with children and resulting in high quality and high volume peer-reviewed publications is also a focus of the work. Katta Spiel’s broader research agenda is around the participatory design and evaluation of technologies with marginalised groups, as there are autistic children for example.
Technology research with autistic children is often concerned with solving functional problems, such as social skills. Parents, carers and educators serve as primary informants both for the design and for the evaluation. However, Katta Spiel’s work looks at playful technologies, prioritizing the children’s intrinsic interests, and researching ways in which their voices and perspectives can be brought into the technology design and evaluation process.
The thesis describes a series of iterative participatory engagements with eight autistic children, that each resulted in a bespoke innovative piece of technology that the children were involved in designing. The core contributions of the thesis arising through these long-term engagements include an experience framework (conceptual framework) based on combining Actor-Network Theory and Critical Discourse Analysis to evaluate the experiences the children have with the technologies that were co-designed with them. In complement to this, a methodological toolkit for creatively enabling autistic children to participate in the evaluation process was developed.