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What is participatory design?

CHAYN is a good example of implementing participatory design. Here, we'll take a closer look at the structure of CHAYN.
© Creative Computing Institute

CHAYN is a good example of implementing participatory design. Here, we’ll take a closer look at what exactly CHAYN is and how it is structured.

What is CHAYN?

In 2013 course contributor Hera Hussain founded CHAYN, a global volunteer network addressing gender-based violence which creates intersectional survivor-led resources online, “helping women experiencing abuse find the right information and support they need to take control of their lives”.

CHAYN projects are structured in three ways:

  • Toolkits & Guides: ‘How-to’ guides such as ‘Do It Yourself Online Safety’ and ‘How to Build Your Own Domestic Violence Case Without A Lawyer’, which are crowdsourced and available in multiple languages.
  • Country Sites and Platforms to Support Women: Country-specific information such as Chayn India and Chayn Pakistan, which provide readers information on things such as how to spot abuse and mental health resources.
  • Digital Services: Online platforms that offer interactive support, including Soul Medicine, which provides micro-courses on key topics that help survivors on the path to recovery, and YSM, which is a ‘digital friend’ for survivors of sexual assault.

CHAYN’s structure

CHAYN is 100% run by its 400+ volunteers, who are spread across 15 countries. All of CHAYN’s projects are ‘built with not for’ the people who use them. The guides are written in a way that makes them applicable internationally, with the global network of survivors and experts co-writing all of the resources. Their lived experiences mean they are highly qualified to design services that will work.

All the projects are open source and under Creative Commons Licenses, which means that anyone can edit them to fit their context and share them with attribution, allowing a large community to participate in what CHAYN produces. They state that “no product is final, and with feedback loops in place, our projects are always a work in progress”.

CHAYN’s emphasis on designing ‘with not for’ is a brilliant example of participatory design in practice. Had you heard of CHAYN before? Are there any other organisations that you’d like to share with other learners which you feel embody participatory design?

© Creative Computing Institute
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