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A methodological reflection on investigating children’s voice in qualitative research involving children with severe speech and physical impairments

Ibrahim, S; Vasalou, A; Benton, L; Clarke, M; (2021) A methodological reflection on investigating children’s voice in qualitative research involving children with severe speech and physical impairments. Disability and Society 10.1080/09687599.2021.1933389. (In press).

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Abstract

Investigating voice in research that involves children with disabilities is highly challenging. Very few studies have problematised voice for the purposes of designing new technologies for and with children who have disabilities. We embarked on qualitative fieldwork with children who have severe speech and physical impairments with the view to motivate designers to consider new child-centred perspectives for conceptualising new communication technologies. In this article, we use reflexivity as a tool to critically examine how empowering our methodological decisions were for children with disabilities, in advancing child-centred accounts of their communication experiences. We propose four considerations that can be useful for researchers and practitioners when undertaking participatory work involving children with disabilities. These are: 1.Theoretical lenses guiding data collection, analysis and interpretation; 2. Developing credible accounts through strong and prominent ideas; 3. Children’s ways of participating evidencing their voices, and; 4. Methods hindering the promotion of child centred accounts. Points of interest Children with severe speech and physical impairments are rarely involved in designing new technologies for supporting communication. It can be challenging to study what children with severe speech and physical impairments express as important about their communication. This article examines the ways in which researchers made decisions about how they worked with children. We studied communication by focusing on the child during their interactions. Our goal was to understand what children expressed as important for communication. We found that researcher beliefs, the use of different methods, and observing children’s ways of participating all influenced the findings. The findings identify that it is important for researchers to be clear to others about the perspectives and different data sources that influence their decisions. Some data collection methods, such as taking photos, can be less empowering for children as they can focus on how the researcher sees the situation.

Type: Article
Title: A methodological reflection on investigating children’s voice in qualitative research involving children with severe speech and physical impairments
DOI: 10.1080/09687599.2021.1933389
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1080/09687599.2021.1933389
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Severe speech and physical impairments, disability, child’s voice, technology, qualitative research, reflexivity
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Culture, Communication and Media
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Language and Cognition
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10127387
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