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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/H006834/1
Title: Sandpit: an organic approach to virtual participatory design (SEEDS)
Principal Investigator: McKay, Professor A
Other Investigators:
Bobrowicz, Ms A Hanson, Professor V
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Mechanical Engineering
Organisation: University of Leeds
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 April 2009 Ends: 31 March 2011 Value (£): 361,378
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Design Processes Human-Computer Interactions
Media & Communication Studies New Media/Web-Based Studies
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Creative Industries
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
There is growing recognition that, while large portions of society are benefitting from emerging digital technologies, a substantial minority is not. For example, the UK Government, in its October 2008 Action Plan for Consultation (Delivering Digital Inclusion), argued that digital exclusion is an increasingly urgent social problem. The report's summary asserted that digital technologies pervade every aspect of modern life but, for example, 17 million people in the UK do not use computers and the Internet, and there is a strong correlation between digital and social exclusion. As a result, a substantial proportion of the population does not enjoy the benefits and opportunities that come through the use of digital technologies. Furthermore, the report recognises that there are significant and untapped opportunities to use technology better on behalf of citizens and communities, including improved services that better address the needs of disadvantaged groups and individuals. Inability to use emerging digital technologies is leaving more and more people behind, limiting their opportunities in areas as diverse as work, entertainment, communication, transport services, and healthcare. This problem is compounded by the fact that developments of new technologies do not tend to be developed with the needs of disengaged users in mind. Recent recommendations to the Digital Inclusion Minister from the Dundee inclusion network suggested, A greater focus needs to be given to the untapped creativity and innovation among the digitally excluded. The digital economy could provide ways of exploiting this and benefit society by promoting a sense of belonging/social cohesion. Government must understand why citizens chose or do not chose to use and learn to use a piece of technology or digital resource. For example, a large percentage of older people want to learn how to do one specific thing, rather than simply to use the internet . Their interest is triggered by becoming aware of a particular piece of technology which would benefit them. The long term goal of this research is to gain a better understanding of the needs of socially excluded people within the Digital Economy and to develop exemplar interfaces and interaction techniques designed to be sensitive to the needs and wants of these groups of people. This project is a feasibility study to determine new methods of engaging digitally excluded individuals in the Digital Economy. The goal is to shape technology and services to meet their particular needs and circumstances and help educate young designers how best to incorporate disabled and older people's needs in the design process. We intend to exploit digital technologies to create a virtual environment in which individuals' stories can be captured and made available to a range of designers (by designers we mean both design students and other problem solvers) in order that they might propose design responses to meet the needs, wants and aspirations that emerge from the stories. We propose a feasibility study where we will define a methodology and apply it with representatives from two communities that are often reported as being digitally excluded: older users and people with learning disabilities. We are proposing a user-push methodology. The goal will be both to empower citizens to participate in developing their own solutions that will serve to motivate their inclusion in the Digital Economy and to uncover motivational factors that could facilitate adoption of digital technologies. The research challenges being addressed in the project are embodied by the following questions:- What can't people currently do which they would do if they were digitally engaged?- What is the motivation for engaging with technology?- How might the disengaged, designers, and other interested parties be brought together to create solutions that address the needs of individuals?
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Project URL:  
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.leeds.ac.uk