University of Illinois at Chicago

User Initiated Design Proposed by People Who Have Had a Stroke: Adapting Inaccessible Environments

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posted on 2017-11-01, 00:00 authored by Martha Patricia Sarmiento
Designers have faced many challenges in the understanding of the needs, desires, and experiences of PWD. Evidence of this challenges lies in the existence of theories, concepts and methodologies associated with the study of the environmental design with disability and participation. Despite this research, PWD frequently experience exclusion given lack of access to and accessibility within the built environment. To date, there has not been a systematic examination of why and how PWS engage in actions, activities and processes to self-design, adapt and transform their environments to fit their changing needs. The purpose of this study was to address this gap by offering insights into why and how PWS undertake these actions. A qualitative–participatory research design was utilized to answer the research question. The study explored designs PWS generated in their home environment and the factors that enhanced their active participation in such processes. Semi-structured interviews, photovoice, observations and a focus group were conducted to meaningfully engage PWS in research and to reveal how PWS design, how they ideated changes to the environment and what role their experience played on this process. It was found that PWS engage in design processes to transform their relations with the environment performing activities to improve their own “user experience”. That engaging in design requires PWS to reflect on and evaluate their current situation to create desirable but achievable “experiential scenarios”. This is empowering for PWS as it challenges them to autonomously face the process. This study is an important step towards the identification of design processes initiated by PWS and will also serve as an analytical framework to understand the nature and structure of this user-controlled design phenomenon.



Hammel, Joy


Hammel, Joy


Disability and Human Development

Degree Grantor

University of Illinois at Chicago

Degree Level

  • Doctoral

Committee Member

Gill, Carol Sandahl, Carrie Parker Harris, Sarah McDonagh, Deana

Submitted date

August 2017

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