Supporting Children with CVI - Project 'Schaukasten' (2017-2018)

SCHAUKASTEN (Engl.: ‘DISPLAY CASE’) – Supporting early intervention for young children with low vision and related disabilities through interaction design (1.12.2016 - 31.1.2018), financed by: ‘Hauptverband der österreichischen Sozialversicherungsträger.’

SCHAUKASTEN seeks to conceptualize, co-design and implement novel interactive toys that motivate young children with visual impairments to keep up with their often dull but crucially important optical exercises to improve vision, motor skills, and related competencies.

Background: Children with a specific condition of visual impairment – cerebral visual impairment (CVI) - should exercise their vision as soon as possible in order to improve their sight or to develop alternative strategies of perceiving their environment. Exercising constitutes an important building block for later leading an autonomous life.

Unfortunately, these exercise can often be little engaging and boring for the effected children and their parents or caregivers.

Therefore, SCHAUKASTEN seeks novel ways into motivating these children to exercise by supporting them with engaging and interactive toys or therapeutic elements.

We have initiated the project with field observations to understand the children's and therapists' needs and therapeutic practices. In addition, right at the beginning of the project, we held a design workshop together with four early intervention therapists to exchange knowledge in an interactive and hands-on format. In this workshop, we created a small 'light table' out of wood, acrylic glass and old LED flash lights (see below figure). One of the therapists (German: "Frühförderinnen") later had the idea to incorporate a fidget spinner into the design. In this way, children with low vision were supported by the actively illuminated table in their perception, and they could also play with a fidget spinner - a very popular toy at that time.

DIY workshop 



Subsequent and parallel to the field work, we have developed the following prototypes and design concepts by now:


  • This research was funded by "Gemeinsame Gesundheitsziele aus dem Rahmen-Pharmavertrag, eine Kooperation von österreichischer Pharmawirtschaft und Sozialversicherung".
  • Sketching credits: Peter Fikar



  • Güldenpfennig, F., Fikar, P., and Ganhör, R. (2017). Towards Interactive and Motivating Stimuli for Children with Visual Impairments. Paper presented at the British HCI. PDF.
  • Fikar, P., Ganhör, R. and  Güldenpfennig, F. (2017). Multimodales Spielzeug für Kinder mit starker Sehbehinderung. Work presented at IKT-Forum'17.
  • Fikar P., Güldenpfennig F., and Ganhör R. (2018). The Cuebe: Facilitating Playful Early Intervention for the Visually Impaired. In International Conference on Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interactions (forthcoming). PDF.
  • Güldenpfennig, F., Fikar P., and Ganhör R. (2018). Interactive and Open-Ended Sensory Toys: Designing with Therapists and Children for Tangible and Visual Interaction. In International Conference on Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interactions. PDF.
  • Fikar, P., Güldenpfennig, F., and Ganhör R. (2018). The Use(fullness) of Therapeutic Toys: Practice-derived Desing Lenses for Toy Design. In Proc Designing Interactive Systems (DIS'18). Draft PDF.
  • Fikar, P., Güldenpfennig, F., and Ganhör R. (2018). Pick, Place, and Follow: A Ball Run for Visually Impaired Children. In Proc Designing Interactive Systems (DIS'18). PDF.
  • Salihodzic, H., Zilberburg, K., Chakhmaghi, N., Güldenpfennig, F., Fikar, P., & Ganhör, R. (2018). LightSight. A Dice to Meet the Eyes. In Proc Designing Interactive Systems (DIS'18). PDF.
  • Güldenpfennig, F., Fikar, P., & Ganhör, R. (2019). A Tangible Color-Picker Toy Designed for Young Children: Balancing Physical Properties and Play Elements Through Design. Workshop paper for CHI'19, Glasgow, Scotland.
  • Fikar, P., Güldenpfennig, F., & Ganhör, R. (2019). Reflections on Mobility in the Design of Therapeutic Toys. Workshop Contribution for Communities & Technologies (C&T'19), Vienna, Austria.
  • Florian Güldenpfennig, Armin Wagner, Peter Fikar, Georg Kaindl, and Roman Ganhör. (2019). Enabling Learning Experiences for Visually Impaired Children by Interaction Design. In Haptic Interfaces for Accessibility, Health, and Enhanced Quality of Life. Troy McDaniel, Sethuraman Panchanathan (Editors). Springer.