Research literature on participatory design in relation to people with communicative and cognitive disabilities often focuses on the challenges of communication among the participants. This paper presents a case study involving people suffering from communication disabilities after a brain injury (aphasia) early in a design process of an avatar-mediated virtual learning environment for rehabilitation. The example demonstrates how providing time and space and supporting the communication with well-suited tools and artefact opens for firth-hand domain knowledge of living with aphasia. The results demonstrate that participatory design methods might result in much more than just being a step in the design process. In this specific case, it turns out to be a tool to engage, involve, and empower people with communication disabilities to interact and communicate. The paper argues, that participatory design is a way for designers to gain insights into what people with aphasia really want and, consequently, might also be a key to redesign rehabilitation for people with communication disabilities.
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