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Professor Serenella Besio at the European Conference for Science Journalists – ECSJ2017

Professor Serenella Besio invited with the research project
“LUDI – Play for Children with Disabilities”
at the European Conference for Science Journalists – ECSJ2017
that will occur in Copenhagen, between the 26th and the 29th June 2017 (

LUDI has been one of the 9 Research Actions identified by the European COST Program (, among the almost 150 currently active, to be presented at the important event of scientific dissemination. The conference focuses on three main themes that relate to the communicative role of journalists: new media, the climate of the earth, responsibility in information.

Play of children with disabilities, studied by LUDI, was included in the latter group since it requires journalists to «get the nuances to the role of science in society», so that «science will be covered in the best possible way». Paraphrasing Shakespeare: “children are such stuff as play is made on”.
Play is vital for children with disabilities as for any other child: but often play becomes difficult for them due to their functional limitations, or because the world of objects and gazes around them is not accessible and welcoming enough, or even because adults do not know how to play and to teach to play with them, in an inventive, fun and inclusive way. The world of children with disabilities should not only be made of educational and rehabilitative exercises and goals – as it may seem by observing their busy days. Like any other child, they have the right to play, to leisure time, to have fun, to build on, by playing, their own development.

And this is exactly what LUDI is currently studying: accessibility of play, playgrounds, and toys; play evaluation methods and playful interaction strategies; teachers’ and professionals’ training; extension and fulfillment of the child’s rights. All these themes will be discussed in Copenhagen.

The abstract of the presentation is available here:

LUDI Action Session – Participation to the 7th DSAI Conference (Software Development and Technologies for Enhancing Accessibility and Fighting Info-exclusion), Vila Real, Portugal

LUDI will participate to the 7th International Conference Software Development and Technologies for Enhancing Accessibility and Fighting Info-exclusion (DSAI), at the University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro – UTAD, in Vila Real (P) on December 1-3 2016 (
The main topic of the Conference concerns Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and, specifically, the idea that technology design should take into account accessibility and usability features for the protection and promotion of the equal human rights of persons with disabilities, consistently with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The LUDI Action Session will involve seven members of the network (Angharad Beckett, Serenella Besio, Andrea Bonarini, Eva Brook-Peterson, Daniela Bulgarelli, Pedro Encarnação and Iolanda Iacono) presenting the following five communications in the Special Track “LUDI – Play for Children with Disabilities (COST Action TD1309)” organized by Pedro Encarnação, LUDI Vice-Chair (
• S. Besio, A. Bonarini, H. Lynch, P. Molina, F. Veronese, D. Bulgarelli, Mainstream robotic toys and children with physical impairment: what about playfulness?
• F. Veronese, D. Bulgarelli, S. Besio, N. Bianquin, A. Bonarini, Off-the-shelf, robotic toys and physically impaired children: an analysis and suggested improvements
• A. Bonarini, F. Clasadonte, F. Garzotto, M. Gelsomini, M. Romero, Playful interaction with Teo, a mobile robot for children with neurodevelopmental disorders
• A. Beckett, E. Brooks, R. Holt, Moving beyond boundaries: when User-Centered Design meets Sociology
• P. Marti, I. Iacono, M. Tittarelli, Gaming archaeology: playful learning for children with different abilities
LUDI will also have a dedicated space for project exhibition during the 3 days of the conference, where informative documents about the Action, posters and advertising leaflets about the forthcoming LUDI books (“Play Development in Children with Disabilities” and “Barriers to Play and Recreation for Children and Young People with Disabilities”) will be presented.

Usability and accessibility review of tools and devices (smartphones and tablets) used in therapy on children with disabilities.

Host: Speech and Language Clinic  that forms part of TAASC

         Team for the Assessment of Attention and Social Communication

(Veronica Montanaro, MALTA)


Visitor: Noemí Rando Hernández (from AIJU, Spain)

 During the STSM Noemí was visiting different institutions to accomplish her objectives:

  • INSPIRE Center: to view the facilities and learn about the different activities that are carried out in the centre, the way in which activities are organised, about the methodology and approaches used and the therapy that is implemented.
  • FITA (Foundation for Information Technology Accessibility): to consult with Ms Veronica Montanaro and Ms Noemí Rando about a new application that is being designed for individuals with a disability.
  • Speech and Language Clinic
  • School at San Miguel Resource Centre
  • Old University of Malta to review several cases in which tablets could be used as an element for play and therapy.
  • Association of Speech-Language Pathologists Malta (ASLP)
  • ACTU (Access for Communication and Technology Unit).

All of these activities allowed Noemí learning about different therapy experiences, to offer to users a good play by the adaptation of teaching materials to a play format and didactic play resources.

The experience has been extremely useful and rewarding for both sides. It was beneficial for the experts from Malta, who received information from Noemí (AIJU) about methods of working and the type of resources (toys and games) which could be useful for them (and for children with disabilities) and it was particularly useful for Noemí (AIJU), as she was able to observe each day how new technologies are used with disabled children and how to modify and adapt them to the needs of each user.

malta-team san-miquel-school noemi-presentation inspire old-university-malta

Showcasing the experience of joining or setting up a European research network

On Sunday 24 and Monday 25 July: Dr Angharad Beckett and Dr Ben Robins , both MC Members for the United Kingdom of COST Action ‘Play for Children with Disabilities (LUDI)’ (TD1309) will showcase their experience in joining or setting up a European research network.

TD COST Action TD1309 Play for Children with Disabilities (LUDI) Descriptions are provided by the Actions directly via e-COST. This Action aims at the creation of a …

#COStatESOF16 #researchnetwork


Dr Angharad Beckett, MC Members for the United Kingdom of COST Action TD1309, and European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas.

ESOF 2016 – Exhibition – 25 July 2016

Dr Ben Robins, MC Members for the United Kingdom of COST Action TD1309, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas, and Kaspar

ESOF 2016 – Exhibition – 25 July 2016

LUDI dissemination meeting at COTEC-ENOTHE 2016

Council of Occupational Therapist for the European Countries  (COTEC) and European Network of Occupational Therapy Education in Europe (ENOTHE) were holding a joined conference at NUI in Galway, Ireland. This congress only takes place once every four years and was attended this year by over 1,000 delegates from every continent.


LUDI had the opportunity to hold a symposium on the topic of play for children with disabilities. The theme of the congress was about CONNECTING. So our LUDI symposiumwas titled:


At the opening of this symposium Maria Prellwitz (Sweden) presented the LUDI network and the relevance of our work. Her work about accessibility of playgrounds for children with disabilities in Sweden is well known and highly valued.


Sylvie Ray-Kaeser (Switzerland) presented her research with children with DCD and the play challenges the children experience. She suggests that occupational therapists should examine more children’s expectations towards play and offering meaningful play goals and play activities. Obviously parents should be involved in this process as well.



Marieke Coussens’ (Belgium) work is focusing on supporting the professionals in day care centre for young children, aged 0-4 years. The tool kit her team has established is stimulating awareness for the importance of play and providing coaching on the job with concrete ideas and facilitation to stimulate play.


The 4th presentation was about the work of Dana Cappel and Noa Nitzan (Israel).  Rianne Jansens (Netherlands) presented on behalf of the Israeli colleagues the positive experiences with children with physical and sometimes also cognitive disabilities in using an iPad for play for the sake of play.

Helen Lynch (Ireland) moderated the questions and discussions at the end of the symposium. These were about definitions of play, how occupational therapists enable play for children in their practice, the influence of the professional context when providing play for the sake and/or play or play like activities.

The symposium was successful in fostering ideas about how we think of play in therapy, and the need to consider play for play-sake as a fundamental issue that is often forgotten.



“Early Childhood Ireland” – Play is FUNdamental

This year Conference of “Early Childhood Ireland” has been devoted to the theme “Play is FUNdamental”, that means to the importance of play for the child’s development under any aspect.

The Action Session organized by the COST Action LUDI “Play for Children with Disabilities”, held on April the 15th was devoted to deepen the aspects that the play activity assumes when the players are special children.


Children with disabilities, in fact, may encounter some, or many, difficulties in developing through play, in relation both to their impairments and to social constraints. But play is the main engine for development and growth also for children with disabilities, who do not need to be offered ludic activities only during learning or rehabilitation sessions, rather they should have the opportunity to play as they wish, as they prefer, simply for the sake of play.

The LUDI members presented the Action LUDI as a pan-European transdisciplinary research network totally devoted to the theme of PLAY for children with disabilities. LUDI objectives for the Action (which will last four years, from 2014 to 2018) were presented. Then each members presented the state of the art of each Working Group.

During discussion time the audience showed great interest in the theme, and posed many questions aimed at discovering if further development of the Action will also include deepening of educational aspects, such as the topic of peer/adult relationships related to play, as well as of the LUDI training model, which has to be developed in the next year.

At the end of the LUDI Action session an overview of the deliverables of the different working groups were presented. These will be embraced as a great source of up-to-date in-depth information regarding different elements of play for children with disabilities.

The audience was invited to share their experiences and insights, and of course to take part in the LUDI network.

The focus of presentations and workshops was on young children in general. The Minister of Child & Youth, James O’Reilly, who opened the Early Childhood Conference on Saturday, demonstrated his specific interest on LUDI, since he mentioned explicitly the importance of giving children with disabilities access to early childhood interventions – play of course included  – so that all children can reach their full potential.

  • Vaska Stancheva-Popkostadinova
  • Anna Andreeva
  • Tamara Zappaterra
  • Eva Petersson-Brooks
  • Rianne Jansens


Play & Disability: Playing Makes It Less Difficult

CounterPlay ’16 – April 14-16, 2016


Play has an important role in supporting us all to have fun as well as develop, communicate, learn and adapt. All children should be morally and legally entitled to play within their own community, irrespective of their culture, ability, gender, language, background, behaviour or need. However for some of us, life might be a bit more challenging due to a permanent or temporary physical, sensory or mental disability. Barriers, lack of autonomy, segregation, are some of the unwelcomed terms that might accompany disability. Are these barriers transferred into our need or access to play? Has play the power to bypass barriers and constraints? In this presentation we will explore the relation between play and disability by using different case studies, including: GameLab – a playful game design workshop in a special education school and Athens Plaython – an inclusive street play festival, while we present Ludi Network (LUDI – Play for Children with Disabilities –, a European network that aims at the creation of a novel and autonomous field of research and intervention on play for children with disabilities. Spreading awareness on the importance of giving children with disabilities the opportunity to play, Ludi will try to ensure equity in their exercise of the right to play for play’s sake! This presentation is financed within the EU COST Programme – TD1309 –


Short bio: Maria studies games in their different applications within and beyond the digital world. She is a researcher of the Lab of New Technologies at the University of Athens where she works on playful environments and studies the experience of users with and without disability. Maria is also the co-founder of Athens Plaython. Together with the Athens Plaython community, she has been curating street gaming festivals and conferences, playful inclusive experiences, and game design workshops for all.



LUDI at the TASP Conference

This year LUDI is participating in the TASP Conference in New Brunswick (NJ – USA), from March 14th to March 16th. The conference is held by The Association for the Study of Play (TASP) and by the American Association for the Child’s Right to play (IPA/USA).
The 2016 TASP/IPA conference is an opportunity for the field to come together and explore the current state of play, including theoretical, empirical, and applied work that informs the knowledge of play throughout the lifespan and across contexts. The goal of the conference is to generate momentum to move the importance of play further into the public domain. The organizing committee has chosen the theme of Play on the Move and is eager to bring together a diverse group of researchers, practitioners, and advocates, both those new to play and those who have made it their life’ʹs work.
The LUDI Chair Serenella Besio will present a poster named: “LUDI – Play for children with disabilities. A European network to support the play of children with disabilities”, illustrating the LUDI mission, goals and organization.

The Third Action meeting of the LUDI European project in Aosta (Italy) on 18 and 19 January 2016

60 researchers and professionals will discuss the theme of play
and children with disabilities

The meeting agenda can be found here.

The Meeting, entitled “The first year of work of the network LUDI”, will be attended by about sixty researchers and professionals, from 30 countries, and will be dedicated, in its part, to deepen the issue of choosing the most appropriate toy in the case of children with disabilities.

The Meeting will start with a plenary session with invited guests, which will develop the theme “Choosing toys and environments for inclusive play. Experiences, models, and guidelines”. LUDI hosts in this occasion the representatives of some of the most lively and interesting initiatives in the field of the “special toy”. They are:

  • Jean Bailey, Director of the National Lekotek Center, Chicago (USA) – – a nonprofit organization that provides a range of services to improve the lives of children with disabilities through play and the use of toys;
  • Bryon Torres, Director of HopToys, Montpellier (France) – – a company that offers to parents and professionals targeted solutions in the fields of toys and adapted tools for children with disabilities;
  • Michele Shapiro, specialist in sensorial adaptation and environmental design, Raanana (Israel), who will present two projects of the Center Beit Issie Shapiro: the use of the Dutch sensorial space Snoezelen and the development of a playground called “Friendship”;
  • Maria Costa, Director of the Department of Pedagogy of the Instituto Tecnológico de Producto infantil y ocio, Alicante (Spain) – – who will provide twenty-five years now experience of the “Guja AIJU of juego y juguete” (now in its version 3.0), which includes an assessment of the accessibility of products.


During the two-day meeting, the four working groups in which the Action is divided will discuss the theme under various perspectives – from technology to social inclusion, from accessibility of toys to theoretical aspects of play – and analyze documents and materials developed so far. Then the discussions’ results will be shared in plenary session, to organize the implementation of the next steps planned.

On Tuesday afternoon the LUDI Management Committee of the project will discuss its scientific, management and organizational aspects, to reach the further envisaged goals.