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Accessible Dance

Co-designing Accessible Body Movement Representations for Contemporary Dance Learning by People who are Blind or have Low Vision

This research aims to address the barriers to participation in recreational body movement for BLV individuals and explore accessible dance education design possibilities, with a particular focus on dance activities. Employing a co-design methodology involving BLV adults and teachers in all phases, the research is to understand challenges and generate prototypes supporting both learning and creative practice of Contemporary dance for BLV individuals.


Actively participating in recreational body movement such as dance, sports, and fitness activities has always been a challenge to people who are blind or have low vision (BLV). This is due to limited accommodation for BLV people in teaching methods such as 'do it like this' instructions relying heavily on visual representations, vague verbal instructions, and (somewhat) problematic physical touch-based guidance.

Research Gap

Recent work in human-centred computing, visualisation community and inclusive technologies provides potential ways to represent body movement for BLV people to experience it as an audience. However, only a few have considered educational applications, and there is limited involvement with the BLV community and their teachers to understand their needs. There is potential to explore multiple modalities in this research space.

  • Lack of focus on learning body movement concepts

  • Starting with needs and challenges

  • Limited collaboration with teachers as experts in early stages

Research Question 1
Understanding Needs, Challenges and Opportunities

There is a problem in accessing body movement by blind or low vision people (BLV), however, insights on the specific needs are limited and insufficient to initiate a design-based discussion. Thus, as first stage of this project is a discovery phase having conversations with BLV people and their teachers in understanding problems of existing body movement learning and teaching methods. We explored in several contexts, such as sports, martial arts, fitness, and dance, considering a holistic approach.


  1. Survey

  2. Interviews

  3. Focus group discussions

Key Findings

Based on a thematic analysis, we identified 10 key themes and 4 key design challenges. The need for,

  • Representation of Body Movement to Support Verbal Instructions;

  • Supporting Feedback and Improving Kinesthetic Awareness;

  • Supporting Spatial and Social Interactive Body Movement Learning;

  • Supporting Accessible Remote Learning.


Madhuka De Silva, Sarah Goodwin, Leona Holloway, Matthew Butler. 2023. In Proc. ASSETS’23.  

Research Question 2
Non-visual Representations for Contemporary Dance

Work in progress

Research Question 3
Work in progress

We are waiting for findings of the research question 2 to decide on this!

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