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Cultural Artefacts with Virtual Capabilities Enhance Self-Expression Possibilities for Children with Special Needs

In this paper we discuss how new combinations of technology, art and culture enable children with special needs new ways to express themselves. UN declaration (UDHR) states “All human beings have the right to participate in cultural life, enjoy art…”, later including children (CRC) and persons with disabilities (CRPD). To meet these UN demands, several countries have created cultural programs to offer children art and culture activities in school. In the Norwegian Cultural Schoolbag-program they emphasize that art and culture can provide experiences that may be decisive in order to develop the individual’s personal identity, life quality and alternative worldviews. Since 2015 one county offers a unique “Accessible-Program” for children with special needs. From many years of research, we know the health-promoting value of artistic and musical activities. New technology opens up completely new ways to make art and culture accessible for all. In this paper, we show how we used music and cultural artefacts with musical and visual capabilities (RFID, AI), giving diverse users new musical, artistic, sensorial and creative experiences. We do this in relation to Ruud’s concepts of Health Affordance and Cultural Immunogen. As a travelling interactive art installation, being part of the Norwegian “Accessible-Program”, we made participatory observations in six schools. We experienced how the children expressed themselves, co-created, showed self-efficacy and made different cultural experiences, depending on disability and relations. With this paper, we emphasize that art and culture, in combination with technology, offers valuable new health-promoting potentialities, important for the UD community.

Cappelen, B.Andersson, A. 2018. 'Cultural Artefacts with Virtual Capabilities Enhance Self-Expression Possibilities for Children with Special Needs'. In Studies in Health Technology and Informatics (ISSN 0926-9630, ISBN 978-1-61499-922-5), Transforming our World Through Design, Diversity and Education. Vol. 256. Dublin: IOS Press, 634-642. DOI: 10.3233/978-1-61499-923-2-634.