DCitizens aims to build the capacity to conduct research in the field of Digital Civics. Digital Civics is a cross-disciplinary research area that posits the use of technology to empower citizens and non-state actors to co-create, take an active role in shaping agendas, make decisions about service provision, and make such provisions sustainable and resilient. Particularly how digital technologies can scaffold a move from transactional to relational service models and the potential of such models to reconfigure power relations between citizens, communities, and institutions. The project is funded by the European Commission (GA 101079116). The consortium includes partners from Italy (IIT), Germany (University of Siegen), and the UK (University of Northumbria).

Project Details

Title: DCitizens

Date: Dec 1, 2022

Authors: Hugo Nicolau

Keywords: digital civics, communities, co-creation

Website: https://dcitizens.eu/

Related Publications

    • PartiPlay: A Participatory Game Design Kit for Neurodiverse Classrooms
    • Patricia Piedade, Isabel Neto, Ana Cristina Pires, Rui Prada, and Hugo Nicolau. 2023. PartiPlay: A Participatory Game Design Kit for Neurodiverse Classrooms. Proceedings of the 25th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility, Association for Computing Machinery. http://doi.org/10.1145/3597638.3614496
    • Play is a central aspect of childhood development, with games as a vital tool to promote it. However, neurodivergent children, especially those in neurodiverse environments, are underserved by HCI games research. Most existing work takes on a top-down approach, disregarding neurodivergent interest for the majority of the design process. Co-design is often proposed as a tool to create truly accessible and inclusive gaming experiences. Nevertheless, co-designing with neurodivergent children within neurodiverse groups brings about unique challenges, such as different communication styles, sensory needs and preferences. Building upon recommendations from prior work in neurodivergent, mixed-ability, and child-led co-design, we propose a concrete participatory game design kit for neurodiverse classrooms: PartiPlay. Moreover, we present preliminary findings from an in-the-wild experiment with the said kit, showcasing its ability to create an inclusive co-design process for neurodiverse groups of children. We aim to provide actionable steps for future participatory design research with neurodiverse children.

    • Ethical Concerns when Working with Mixed-Ability Groups of Children
    • Patricia Piedade, Ana Henriques, Filipa Rocha, Isabel Neto, and Hugo Nicolau. 2023. Ethical Concerns when Working with Mixed-Ability Groups of Children. In Proceedings of ASSETS 2023 Workshop - Tackling the Lack of a Practical Guide in Disability-Centered Research. Retrieved from https://assets2023guide.mere.st/accepted-submissions/
    • Accessibility research has gained traction, yet ethical gaps persist in the inclusion of individuals with disabilities, especially children. Inclusive research practices are essential to ensure research and design solutions cater to the needs of all individuals, regardless of their abilities. Working with children with disabilities in Human-Computer Interaction and Human-Robot Interaction presents a unique set of ethical dilemmas. These young participants often require additional care, support, and accommodations, which can fall off researchers’ resources or expertise. The lack of clear guidance on navigating these challenges further aggravates the problem. To provide a base and address this issue, we adopt a critical reflective approach, evaluating our impact by analyzing two case studies involving children with disabilities in HCI/HRI research.

    • Frameworking for a Community-led Feminist Ethics
    • Ana Henriques, Hugo Nicolau, and Kyle Montague. 2023. Frameworking for a Community-led Feminist Ethics. In Proceedings of CSCW 2023 Workshop - A Toolbox for Feminist Wonder - Theories and Methods that can Make a Difference.
    • [ABSTRACT] [PDF]
    • This paper introduces a relational perspective on ethics within the context of Feminist Digital Civics and community-led design. Ethics work in HCI has primarily focused on prescriptive machine ethics and bioethics principles rather than people. In response, we advocate for a community-led, processual approach to ethics, acknowledging power dynamics and local contexts. We thus propose a multidimensional adaptive model for ethics in HCI design, integrating an intersectional feminist ethical lens. This framework embraces feminist epistemologies, methods, and methodologies, fostering a reflexive practice. By weaving together situated knowledges, standpoint theory, intersectionality, participatory methods, and care ethics, our approach offers a holistic foundation for ethics in HCI, aiming to advance community-led practices and enrich the discourse surrounding ethics within this field.

    • That’s our game!: Reflections on Co-designing a Robotic Game with Neurodiverse Children
    • Patricia Piedade, Isabel Neto, Ana Pires, Rui Prada, and Hugo Nicolau. 2023. That’s our game!: Reflections on Co-designing a Robotic Game with Neurodiverse Children. In Proceedings of INTERACT 2023 Workshop - Designing Technology for Neurodivergent Self-Determination: Challenges and Opportunities, Springer International Publishing.
    • [ABSTRACT] [PDF]
    • Many neurodivergent children are integrated into mainstream schools alongside their neurotypical peers. However, they often face so- cial exclusion, which may have lifelong effects. Inclusive play activities can be a strong driver of inclusion. Unfortunately, games designed for the specific needs of neurodiverse groups, those that include neurodi- vergent and neurotypical individuals, are scarce. Given the potential of robots as engaging devices, we led a 6-month co-design process to build an inclusive and entertaining robotic game for neurodiverse classrooms. We first interviewed neurodivergent adults and educators to identify the barriers and facilitators for including neurodivergent children in main- stream classrooms. Then, we conducted five co-design sessions, engaging four neurodiverse classrooms with 81 children (19 neurodivergent). We present a reflection on our co-design process and the resulting robotic game through the lens of Self-Determination Theory, discussing how our methodology supported the intrinsic motivations of neurodivergent children


Hugo is an Assistant Professor in the Computer Science and Engineering Department (DEI) of Instituto Superior Técnico, University of Lisbon in Portugal. He's also Vice-President and researcher at the Interactive Technologies Institute / LARSyS.

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