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Research in HCI applied to clinical interventions relies on normative assumptions about which bodies and minds are healthy, valuable, and desirable. To disrupt this normalizing drive in HCI, we define a “counterventional approach” to intervention technology design informed by critical scholarship and community perspectives. This approach is meant to unsettle normative assumptions of intervention as urgent, necessary, and curative. We begin with a historical overview of intervention in HCI and its critics. Then, through reparative readings of past HCI projects in autism intervention, we illustrate the emergent principles of a counterventional approach and how it may manifest research outcomes that are fundamentally divergent from dominant approaches. We then explicate characteristics of “counterventions” – projects that aim to contest dominant sociotechnical paradigms through privileging community and participants in research inquiry, interaction design, and analysis of outcomes. These divergent research imaginaries have transformative implications for how interventionist HCI might be conducted in future.


This article was originally published in Proceedings of the 2023 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in 2023.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.