RO-MAN 2021


Workshop Schedule 1

Disability Rights and Robotics: Developing co-production methodologies for the user-centered and community centered design of robots.


  • Provide an opportunity to develop understanding around co-production methodologies for user and user and community led robotics design that promote disability rights.

  • Provide an opportunity to gain understanding of the different contexts of the Global South and Global North for socially just, relevant innovation

  • To encourage the formation of international networks for future initiatives.

  • To encourage participation, each session will have a discussant facilitating focused dialogue on these objectives.

Who it will benefit

The tutorial is designed for attendees involved in the design of robotics technology with a commitment to the promotion of disability rights as a central requirement for inclusive innovation in robotics technology.

What you will learn

  • The session will share and use inclusive methods including community video, community cartoon, and co-researcher blog posts.

  • The tutorial will keep to an accessible pace and provide materials in advance on the tutorial webpage.

  • Gives examples of different cross disciplinary methods of co- production research from the UK involving people with lived experience of disability, mental health and family caring.

  • Identifies ethical concerns, potential opportunities and priorities for future research and illustrate the value of co- production.

  • Presents examples of research, community engagement and theoretical development from the perspective of academic leads in the Global South and the Global North raising questions around community level development, inequality and access to innovation.

  • Demonstrates an online version of a method of evaluation specifically designed for co- production (Gibson et al.2021) that asks for feedback on how participants considered themselves part of the co-production processes. The tool generates a visual picture across a cube axis of involvement which is used to initiate a collective discussion and development of co-production methodology going forward.


Session 1 Co-production in robotics design: sharing example projects

Presentation by Esther Fox: Art in the time of Covid: Using Telepresence Robotics to enable access to museums and galleries

Abstract: Disability and Community ( ), an Arts and Humanities funded project has been investigating the evolving ways in which disabled people express, perform, experience and practise ‘community’. Esther Fox, Project Manager and Co-investigator on the project will share the project’s recent experience of using telepresence robots in museums which demonstrated how museum experiences can alleviate the impact of social isolation on people vulnerable to Covid-19. She will discuss the possibilities for connectedness through the act of bringing people together to discuss shared experiences, particularly for some of the more traditionally hard to reach audiences for museums

Presentation by Sophie Savage & DR&R Team: Disability Rights and Robotics: co-producing futures

Abstract: This project asked ‘how can robotics technology promote disability rights and how can co- production generate research priorities?’ We share the knowledge café methodology, key messages for future research and learning from online public impact events. First take our online tour of the UWE Assisted Living Studio and ask yourself ‘how might robotics promote disability rights?’ – go to

Discussant led discussion

Session 2 Perspectives from Global South on developing user and community led priorities for co-production research

Presentation by Professor Marisol Moreno Angarita - Disability and Robotics: 'What is this about in the Global South?'

Description: Video pre-recorded.
Person with Disabilities, caregivers, researchers, stake holders and professionals, will express their perceptions of the role of robotics in people's lives in the Global South, emphasizing the meanings, practices and results of this “new reality” in Colombia.

Presentation by MSc Leslie Thompson: Robotics and the Social Model of Disability in Mexico: Accessibility and relevance within a cultural and legal context.

: In Mexico, the care of people with disabilities is characterized by inequalities. Three Disability Models can be located in the country: a) the charity period, which identifies disabilities with imperfections, impurities, the rage of gods and the expiation of sins. On the one hand, it has the Christian discourse of compassion and, on the other, exclusion and punishment as the people with disabilities are perceived as useless, dangerous and unnecessary; b) the medical/rehabilitation disability model, which discards the spiritual cause of disability in favour of scientific aetiology and medical treatment, disability is considered a deficiency, alteration or failure, and a person with a disability can be useful given the tools to rehabilitate and integrate; and c) the social period, characterized by disability not being a religious or medical cause, but a result of society designed to meet the needs of "normal" people.

Mexico have had several initiatives for the use of robotics to assist the inclusion of people with disabilities, nonetheless, within the cultural context, no governmental support has been given, leaving the projects in need of a private sponsor, which not often comes along.  This presentation aims to shed some light over those difficulties in order to explore a way of breaking the barriers, and how robotics may aid in that goal.

Discussant led discussion

Session 3 Perspectives from Global North on developing user and community led priorities for co-production research

Presentation by Professor Carla Rice: How Can Disability Disrupt Robotics?

Abstract: In this presentation, I bring critical disability studies into conversation with robotics to explore how disabled artists and technologists repurpose existing technologies and invent new technologies in artistic processes designed to extend embodiment, enact access, and create change. I draw on technological innovations created through Bodies in Translation: Activist Art, Technology and Access to Art (BIT), a multi-year, multi-partner research project that seeks to cultivate disability arts in Canada. I argue that through a transformative engagement with technology, disabled artists and developers disrupt neoliberal logics and normative impulses that have come to drive technology development and in so doing, create something new. This “something new” emerges from how disability arts- and culture-informed technology development processes anticipate a multiplicity of bodyminds & enact accessibility through the understanding that access is iterative and art is for everyone. I assert that disabled artists’ modes of technological engagement invite the kind of world-making that opens possibilities for non-normative lives and futures.

Presentation by Dr. Kirsty Liddiard: Co-Production and Disability Justice: Centring virtual technologies

In this short contribution we outline the ways in which virtual communication technologies have been central to engaging disabled young people living with life-limiting and life- threatening impairments in research leadership in our ESRC-funded project, Living Life to the Fullest. Throughout the project, we have used online space and myriad social technologies to meaningfully co-produce intimate knowledge of life, death, disability and future in collaboration with young people. We share our co-production toolkit - Why Can't We Dream?- as a way to encourage disability justice in research and to uncover the unique ways in which we have enacted co-production through the project. We include the group's ideas on how robotics Living Life to the Fullest project ( technology could further promote disability justice.

Session 4 Co-producing evaluation

Tutorial by Associate Professor Andy Gibson: Using the Evaluation Cube online tool

Description: How to evaluate the quality of co-production has been much debated. Andy Gibson has developed a 4 dimensional theoretical framework for planning and evaluating co- production which he has now developed into an online tool. Participants will get the opportunity to use the tool in real time to evaluate their participation in today’s event. There will be time to discuss the findings and reflect on the content and process of the tutorial.

Overall Q&A / Open Discussion of future directions and impact on the design of assistive robots

Led by Professor Praminda Caleb-Solly