Methodology & Objectives

CRITICAL aims to research and develop interactive learning tools to make group work in mixed classrooms more inclusive of visually impaired students.

Broad research questions

The project explores questions such as:

  • How do people learn together when they have access to different sets of sensory modalities?
  • How can we exploit crossmodal interaction to design more inclusive collaborative user interfaces?
  • What features of a system of crossmodal digital technologies nurture and support more socially inclusive collaborations?
  • How can these technologies improve teaching practices and group learning activities in mixed classroom settings?


CRITICAL employs a user-centred iterative methodology, combining participatory design activities with empirical research into crossmodal interaction to find out how different senses can be integrated with visual capabilities.

Participatory Design & Controlled Studies

A participatory design approach ensures that developed solutions match actual users’ needs in their contexts, while controlled studies provide empirical grounding to validate design decisions and drive tools development and refinement. The process thus engage visually impaired and sighted learners and teachers to produce collaborative learning tools that are inclusive of all.

Validation in the wild

The developed tools will be further validated in classroom settings to find out how they can improve group learning activities and teaching practices in the longer term.


Focus is placed on gaps in technological support for accommodating curriculum requirements involving graphic literacy and group learning activities.

Project objectives

The objectives of this project are to:

  • Establish an understanding of best practice and issues with technological support as
    experienced in actual teaching and group learning practices in mixed classroom settings.
  • Create participatory design methods for designing novel cross-modal tools to support group learning activities, including strategies for involving teachers and both visually-impaired and sighted learners in conceptual design.
  • Build demonstrations of cross-modal interactive learning tools.
  • Develop study methods for evaluating cross-modal collaboration in the lab and in-situ.
  • Build an open-source platform for collaborative cross-modal interactions and nurture an associated community of users and developers.
  • Critical analysis of gaps in technological support for curriculum requirements involving graphics and group learning.