Inclusive Education (Master Thesis)

Master Thesis

My visit to a school for mentally disabled children made clear to me that many
of the pupils had severe verbal deficits, which made communication hardly possible.
I wanted to explore whether design could be a strategy to support children with
significant language deficiencies express their thoughts and emotions without words.

Design transforms words, thoughts and ideas into physical objects. The decision about
the composition of form, material, texture, color, sound and fragrance is consciously
taken in order to convey emotions and ideas. Therefore design can be understood as a
form of nonverbal communication using physical means. A selection of objects with
different haptic qualities served as a tactile input for the children to reproduce their
inner world of feeling graphically. The results of my design research so far have shown
that autism-affected children, who were additionally severely restricted by their physical
handicaps, responded emotionally to the special haptics of the objects and made their own
drawings for the first time. Both me and the teachers got unique insights into the feeling
and thought spectrum of the pupils.


Further reading:

BMAS 2008. UN-Behindertenrechtskonvention.

Hetzroni, O. 2003. A positive behavior support: A preliminary evaluation of a school-wide
plan for implementing AAC in a school for students with intellectual disabilities. Journal of
Intellectual and Developmental Disability, 28, 283-296.

Silver, R. A 1989: Developing Cognitive and Creative Skills through Art: Programs for
Children with Communication Disorders or Learning Disabilities. Third Edition. Revised.

Trief, E. 2007. The Use of Tangible Cues for Children with Multiple Disabilities and
Visual Impairment. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 613-619