Designing technologies to support migrants and refugees
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Families migrate to improve their outcomes, however the process is very disruptive. My research asks and answers the question can scaffolding communication through technology mitigate the disruption caused to families by migration, and if so, how? In my work I have explored two forms of disruptive family migration—parental migration (where parents and children live in separate countries) and refugee resettlement (resulting from forced migration). In both forms, families are embedded in support networks of individuals they rely on to minimize vulnerabilities faced post-migration and to rebuild a stable family structure. My empirical results revealed barriers (distance, language, literacy and so forth) that render the communication between families and their support network less than effective. Through participatory approaches, I then design and evaluate separately, two systems to mitigate the barriers and improve communication in the various support networks. The end contributions of my work include: i) contributing a nascent agenda on migration for Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and related fields through providing an increased understanding of the challenges that limit the livelihoods of migration-separated and refugee families; ii) demonstrating two communication scaffolding systems for transient use by migrants to mitigate communication barriers--- time and distance on one hand (to support transnational home-school communication) and language and literacy on the other (through mediated human-in-the-loop voice translations for everyday interactions with refugees); iii) putting forth a reflection on methods to guide others seeking to work with similar groups and establishing the notion of designing for transient use in the development of systems to scaffold communication.