Towards a Child-centred Approach to Inclusive Paediatric Mobility Design; An Interdisciplinary Exploration of Children’s Mobility Narratives in the Design Process


Mobility is a necessary and significant part of life which amongst children in particular, impacts multiple health outcomes. Independent mobility facilitates children’s physical, emotional, psychosocial, perceptual and cognitive development whilst also providing opportunities to make social interactions, increase confidence and participate with peers in everyday activities.

Inclusive paediatric mobility (IPM) design is capable of raising the standard of living and optimising childhood for mobility-impaired children around the world, through the conceptualisation, development and embodiment of appropriate mobility interventions (e.g. wheelchairs, walking aids, braces, prosthetic (robotic) limbs and exoskeletons). However, the majority of IPM interventions do not currently fulfil the broad range of stakeholder requirements or wishes, and in many cases fail to consider children’s perspectives and opinions during the design process. By building a foundational knowledge base around the design of such interventions, the IPM design process can be conducted more rigorously to optimise and improve future design outcomes from a child-centred perspective.


The overarching aim of this research is to create a knowledge base and blueprint for IPM design, to steer and facilitate future research and thus interventions in the field. This interdisciplinary investigation focuses on attending to the designerly knowledge gaps and opportunities identified through the Reflection-for-Transition framework of Designerly Ways (Figure 1), with specific attention to the nature, potential roles and applications of children’s mobility narratives.

This research is conducted in collaboration with Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and The Hugh Greenwood Legacy for Children’s Health Research.

A reflection for transition framework of designerly ways - a circle in the middle contains the words - investigations, processes, contributions, collaborations and contexts. To the left is a circle representing reflections on old designerly ways. To the right is a circle representing visions for transition to new designerly ways.
Figure 1. Reflection-for-Transition framework of Designerly Ways

logo for the hugh greenwood legacy for children's health research
logo for alder hey children's hospital

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orange bullet pointChild-centred Framing Through Design Research: A Framework For Analysing Children’s ‘Dream Wheelchair’ Designs to Elicit Meaning and Elevate Their Voice (Preprint, 2021).

orange bullet pointWhat Can Be Learnt From 130 Children’s Dream Wheelchair Designs? Eliciting Child-centred Insights Using an Interdisciplinary Design Analysis Framework (ICED’21 Conference, 2021).

orange bullet pointDesign as an Agent of Children’s Rights? Inclusive Mobility Design for Children with Disabilities (Routledge International Handbook on Children’s Rights and Disability, 2021).

orange bullet pointDesign as an Agent of Children’s Rights? Inclusive Mobility Design for Children with Disabilities (Preprint, Routledge International Handbook on Children’s Rights and Disability, Book chapter, 2021).

orange bullet pointWhat Could We Learn from Disabled Children’s Dream Wheelchair Designs? A Case for Facilitating Interdisciplinary Collaboration to Elicit Children’s Voices and Optimise Their Engagement in Design (Preprint, 2021).

A Reflection-for-transition Framework for Questioning Our Designerly Ways; Insights from Mapping 50 Years of Design for Inclusive Childhood Mobility (The Design Journal, Preprint, 2021).

50 Years of Inclusive Design for Childhood Mobility; Insights from an Illustrative Mapping Review (Design Research Society International Conference, DRS 2020).

Drivers for Change; Initial Insights from Mapping Half a Century of Inclusive Paediatric Mobility Design (Advances in Usability, User Experience, Wearable and Assistive Technology; Book chapter, 2020).

For further information about this project, please contact Cara Shaw