An interactive playmat to support bonding between parents and young children with visual (and intellectual) disabilities

Paula Verbon*, M. Toeters, M. Baars, E. Baracova, Paula Sterkenburg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

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How can a caregiver contribute to secure attachment in a playful manner when the infant is blind or has visual (and intellectual) disabilities? This paper describes the design and development of an interactive playmat to contribute to this bonding process by stimulating sensitive mirroring behaviour of the parent. The motivation for developing the playmat is discussed, followed by an overview of the collaborative developmental process. An iterative co-creation process involving researchers from various disciplines, professional designers and focus groups was used; several test phases with target users took place. This paper describes the starting point from which the process was commenced and the following three iterations. The third iteration is worked out in full detail, including: sensor technology, technical drawing of the product, textile selection, electronics and software, as well as casing design and connection.Playing with the interactive playmat goes as follows: parent and child are facing each other, sitting or lying down next to the mat. The young child with visual disabilities starts exploring the mat and presses deliberately or accidentally on one of the four coloured tiles, which enables a (previously set up) sound. The parent vocalises and copies the child’s behaviour, which supports the cycles of communication between them. Together, parent and child explore the interactive playmat. The playmat not only makes sound, it is also stimulatory in the sense that it is made out of different textures, which promotes the curiosity of the child even more.In the discussion, the product is reflected upon and the collaboration in the iterative collaborative process is reviewed. Both parties gained much knowledge and enjoyed working together. The planned field study is described: the interactive playmat will (in the upcoming months) be tested on twelve parent-infant dyads. The paper is concluded with the expected implementation of the interactive playmat.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEKSIG 2019 Knowing Together - experiential knowledge and collaboration
Subtitle of host publicationConference Proceedings of International Conference 2019 of the DRS Special Interest Group on Experiential Knowledge
EditorsNithikul Nimkulrat, Kristi Kuusk, Julia Valle Noronha, Camilla Groth, Oscar Tomico
PublisherEstonian Academy of Arts
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9789949594825
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventEKSIG2019. Knowing Together – experiential knowledge and collaboration - Estonian Academy of Arts, Tallin, Estonia
Duration: 23 Sept 201924 Sept 2019


ConferenceEKSIG2019. Knowing Together – experiential knowledge and collaboration
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