Technology has become central to many activities of learning, ranging from its use in classroom education to work training, mastering a new hobby, or acquiring new skills of living. While digitally-enhanced learning tools can provide valuable access to information and personalised support, people with specific accessibility needs, such as low or no vision, can often be excluded from their use. This requires technology developers to build more inclusive designs and to offer learning experiences that can be shared by people with mixed-visual abilities. There is also scope to integrate DIY approaches and provide specialised teachers with the ability to design their own low cost educational tools, adapted to pedagogical objectives and to the variety of visual and cognitive abilities of their students.

For researchers, this further invites new challenges of how to best support technology adoption and its evaluation in often complex educational settings. Thus, this one-day workshop seeks to bring together researchers and practitioners interested in accessibility and education to share best practices and lessons learnt for technology in this space; and to jointly discuss and develop future directions for the next generation design of inclusive and effective educational tools and systems.

The workshop will thus be an opportunity for HCI researchers and practitioners in the areas of education and visual impairment to share knowledge and insights into methods and tools by discussing questions of interest from a variety of perspectives and themes, including:

  • Novel Interaction Techniques: Researchers are developing increasingly novel interaction techniques that have the potential to support more engaging interactions, and off-the-shelf technology offer more advanced multisensory input and output capabilities. How do we leverage this potential to maximise educational benefits for people with visual impairments?
  • Individual Cognition and Perception: sensory substitution studies contribute to our understanding of how the visual parts of the brain process other information in the absence of visual input. Digital interactive tools that introduce novelty and stimulate activity can play a powerful role in creating new neural pathways to support learning processes. How do we leverage this potential to maximise educational benefits for people with visual impairments?
  • Collaborative Learning and Inclusion: learners with visual impairments have been entering mainstream education in growing numbers, how should technology-enhanced learning tools and environments be designed in such contexts to address the challenges they face in such settings? How do we design, develop and evaluate collaborative educational tools for learners with with mixed abilities? How can we go beyond assistive technology that only focuses on mitigating a functional limitation in the context of education?
  • Design Education and Training: how can we include educators and learners in the process of designing educational technologies that support people with visual impairments? Involving populations with special education needs in design is more complex due to the range of additional support they may have during the design process. At the same time, as with any form of participation in decision-making in society, people with visual impairments have had limited opportunities to influence technology design in the educational context. Thus, how can we create more inclusive methods and co-design tools that help facilitate important dialogue both with learners with visual impairments, and further stakeholders? How can we provide specialized teachers with tools that are easy to adapt to the topic and audience?
  • Evaluation: Schools, classrooms and learning environments in general are challenging for evaluation. Thus, new ways need to be explored to prove the value of novel HCI techniques in the educational contexts. How to develop appropriate methods to help evaluate impact on teaching and learning practices? Which criterias should be taken into account, and whose point of views?

We will summarise the discussions and the wide range of research presented at the workshop in a report to be published in an HCI journal or a magazine article (e.g., ACM Interaction). We will release a report in multiple formats and invite blog contributions on the subject to foster a community around these issues, themes and directions that emerge from the workshop. We have also built-in time during the workshop for discussing and planning further routes for dissemination and future work.