Designing for and with Marginalized People in Developing Countries:: Efforts to Undertake a Participatory Design Project with Children Using Prosthetic Legs in Cambodia
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The use of participatory design is often advocated when working in developing countries. However, there has been limited research on the practical experiences of organizing and using participatory design approaches with financially and socially marginalized people in such countries. In this thesis, a project for children using prosthetic legs in Cambodia is presented. The work is based on four field studies done over three years. The early phases of the design process, in which user needs are investigated and understood and product ideas are generated, are dealt with. Participatory techniques were used with child prosthesis users and adult participants who work with producing and fitting prosthetic legs. Additionally, the research is based on interviews of various other stakeholders to attain insight into cultural and religious beliefs about disabilities in Cambodia. The research approach is based on the philosophical underpinnings of philosophical hermeneutics, with an emphasis on the teachings of Gadamer. The aim has been to strive for a holistic understanding of products as not only technical artefacts, but also as products that are interpreted within a social, cultural, religious, and historical context. It is advocated that it is only through understanding the tacit framework the product will be used and interpreted within, that designers can succeed with developing solutions that truly help the intended users. The research contributes to giving more knowledge about the challenges and opportunities of undertaking participatory design with marginalized user groups in developing countries. The work has resulted in a framework consisting of four early-stage models and two tables that –together with the descriptions of experiences from the fieldwork - represent a starting point for developing a design methodology for designing for and with underprivileged people in developing countries.