University of Twente Student Theses


Whose knowledge counts? Understanding the position of deaf people within society through their involvement in co-designing of videotelephony

Battjes, M.M. (2020) Whose knowledge counts? Understanding the position of deaf people within society through their involvement in co-designing of videotelephony.

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Abstract:This thesis focusses on how the needs of Deaf people can be translated into the design of technology through the form of community-based co-design. The question asked is, how did the involvement of Deaf people change the design of videotelephony? The societal justification of this research is found in drawing attention to the exclusion of minority groups – in this case, Deaf people. This practice is harmful to all; it is actively harmful to the lives of Deaf people as everything becomes more complicated than need be, and it is passively harmful to the rest of society as it shows a lack of empathy to those who have non-normative bodies. The scientific justification lies in the importance of reflection, analysis and discussion regarding technology. In this case: the development of videotelephony, how it was created, which type of videotelephony should become dominant and who is excluded from using it to enrich their life. Analysis of the historical development of videotelephony, in part through a lens of social construction, shows that there are multiple ways to create ‘videotelephony’. The chronology shows that the innovation process was a top-down design from men and companies towards the greater public. This reflection is needed to examine the disappearance of the traditional producer/user dichotomy in videotelephony design in the research and design development that happened in the last twenty years in South Africa; a design form termed community-based co-design. The research conducted in South Africa was selected as they had the most extensive, in-depth and long-term research in the development of Deaf videotelephony, both from the beginning of standard design methods until the development of community-based co-design. The main conclusion found in this study is that Deaf people know what they want and need from technological solutions. By co-designing, they are given the tools to empower themselves. Videotelephony created this way can be employed in all manner of settings, wherein the design is created explicitly for Deaf people and thereby, more user-friendly. The application of STS research conducted in this thesis can be used for further analysis of this topic. Moreover, it can be applied in regards to other minority groups’ development of technological aids and assistance.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Programme:Philosophy of Science, Technology and Society MSc (60024)
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