Hearing Through Their Ears: Developing Inclusive Research Methods to Co-Create with Blind Participants

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This paper recounts research into the orientation and mobility experiences of people who are blind or visually impaired, and describes the novel sonic research method I developed for this purpose. “Participant Phonography,” as I call the method, aims to empower research participants with low or no vision through the self-guided creation of sound recordings that represent their experiences of the world in a first-person perspective. More broadly, the paper highlights the inadequate efforts of ethnographers in industry to tackle challenges of disability and reflects on the ethical challenges that face researchers who want to include disabled people in research. Inclusive methods like participant phonography have great potential to break down traditional power structures that have rendered non-normative groups marginal in user research, but these methods also come with substantial barriers to their implementation in a corporate context.

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