Blind Tennis Extreme Users and Participatory Design

Blind tennis, also known as Soundball, is a variation on traditional tennis. It incorporates a larger ball filled with ball bearings in order to make trackable sounds when it is in motion. The Blind Tennis Extreme Users and Participatory Design project explores questions related to materiality, participation, and inclusive design that arise from a series of events involving the design and prototyping of a tennis ball for use in ‘blind tennis.’

When looking for innovative ways to create altered tennis balls for blind tennis, blind user-designers were full participants in the design discussion and testing phases. However, they were less able to take part in the construction of the prototypes. This prompted us to examine the role material engagement plays in participatory and inclusive forms of design. The result was the creation of an experimental circuit design workflow that accommodates blind prototypers.