Special Education Embodied Design (SpEED)

Aim: Surveying across design research projects developed for different Special Education populations including autistic learners, blind learners, Deaf learners, and learners with high sensory regulation needs, Special Education Embodied Design (SpEED) sets out to develop guiding principles for building and running embodied design for special education students’ learning.

Team members: Sofia Tancredi , Rachel Chen, Christina Krause, Dr. Yue-Ting Siu

Background and Motivation: SpEEDsters are brought together by a common commitment to studying the implications of embodied cognition for learners in special education. With expertise in communication, sensory regulation, cognition, gesture, and mathematics learning, and with diverse design research projects serving different special education populations, SpEED looks to synthesize across disciplines to unpack the potential of embodied design for rethinking learning accessibility and guiding inclusive educational design.

Current Design-Based Research Projects:

Balance Board Math

Series of three images a woman sitting cross-legged on balance board. in the first, both hands are together at midline and board is horizontal. second, left hand somewhat extended right remains 0 tilts slightly left. third, further 0, tilted to

Balance Board Math

Focus: The role of sensory regulation in learning for students with sensory hyposensitivity

Research questions: How do sensory regulation and conceptual learning impact each other? How might the integration of sensory-regulatory and math learning movements affect learning outcomes?

The Magical Musical Mat

Two women smile and one waves at the camera as they sit on floor with their feet resting two of four mats. mats are each a different shape: hexagon, heart, triangle, circle. also has color border: green, pink, orange, blue.

The Magical Musical Mat

Focus: embodied and interactional practices of autistic individuals as they navigate their social and material world

Research questions: How can we reimagine communication and joint action in special education? How can design be used to surface the communicative competencies of autistic individuals?

SignEd | Math

Two panels showing different states of a tablet app. in the first panel, screen background is red. it shows two white bars lengths with touchpoint circles at each end. ratio left bar to right roughly 4 3. second green, and again there are bars, this time length 2 1.


Focus: The role of sign language in conceptualization of mathematical ideas and the individual and social learning processes of deaf and HoH students

Research questions: What can we learn about mathematical ideas and about learning mathematics through the students’ visual-spatial ways of mathematical interaction and reasoning? How can design approaches use the iconic/gestural potential of signs strengths to provide individual and social learning opportunities for deaf students and beyond?

Past events: SpEED at the SESAME Colloquium


Publications and Presentations:

Krause, C.M., Tancredi, S., Chen, R. S. Y. (2021, July). Time for SpEED: Ansätze für inklusiv-gleichberechtigte Lerngelegenheiten durch Special Education Embodied Design [Time for SpEED: Reimagining equitable learning opportunities through Special Education Embodied Design]. Invited colloquium presentation, Thursday colloquium of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Educational Research, University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany, July 1, 2021.

Tancredi, S., Chen, R. ., Krause, C., Abrahamson, D., & Gomez Paloma, F. (2021). Getting up to SpEED: Special Education Embodied Design for Sensorially Equitable Inclusion. Education Sciences & Society – Open Access12(1). https://doi.org/10.3280/ess1-2021oa11818

Tancredi, S., Chen, R. S. Y., & Krause, C. (2021, May 6-9). SpEEDing towards equitable instruction: Special Education Embodied Design for sensory diversity (Panel). Uncommon Senses III: Back to the Future of the Senses, Montreal, Canada.

Tancredi, S., Chen, R. S. Y., Krause, C., & Abrahamson, D. (2021, March). Getting up to SpEED: Special education embodied design for sensorially equitable inclusion. Invited keynote in F. Gomez Paloma (Convener), Inclusion Week. University of Macerata, Italy, March 16, 2021.

Tancredi, S., Chen, R., Krause, C. (2021, November 13). The Need for SpEED: Special Education Embodied Design (Colloquium Talk). Graduate Group in Science and Mathematics Education (SESAME) Colloquium, Berkeley, California, United States.

Tancredi, S., Chen, R. S. Y., Krause, C., & Siu, Y.–T. (in press). The need for SpEED: Reimagining accessibility through Special Education Embodied Design. In S. L. Macrine & J.M. Fugate (Eds.), Movement matters: How embodied cognition informs teaching and learning.  M.I.T. Press.

Tancredi, S., Chen, R., & Krause, C. (2020, February 2). The need for SpEED: Special education embodied design (Panel). UC-SpEDDR, Los Angeles, California.

Chen, R. & Tancredi, S. (2019, May). Centering disability and neurodiversity in embodied design (Conference presentation). The EMIC Synthesis and Design Workshop: The Future of Embodied Design for Mathematical Imagination and Cognition, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, United States.