Development and evaluation of a design tool for occupational therapists to facilitate co-design of assistive technology with designers
Lee, Su Jin
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Development of effective assistive technology (AT) for individuals for disabilities necessitates close collaboration between occupational therapists (OTs) and designers. Currently, their successful collaboration is hampered by absence of a common language; as a result, clinical insight necessary for creating effective AT are poorly integrated into the design process. This problem can be attributed, in large part, to OTs’ inability to communicate with designers in design-actionable language. For successful ATs to be developed, OTs must be able to translate their clinical understanding of task-performance deficits into task-relevant design attributes that are necessary for designers to make informed design decisions. To enhance OT’s ability to communicate their expertise to designers and, therefore, be a better co-design partner in the co-design process, the aims of this dissertation were to: 1) develop the Dyadic Transfer Performance Instrument (DTPI), a tool designed to help OTs articulate, in design-relevant terms, clinical knowledge pertinent to designing AT interventions for caregiver-assisted transfers, 2) Conduct co-design workshops to engage OTs and designers to i) identify task-related problems with transfers from a pre-recorded video; ii) generate concepts for AT solutions, with and without DTPI, for a real-life case (based on a caregiving dyad experiencing transfer performance difficulties), and 3) Evaluate the usefulness of the DTPI, as measured by the extent to which its use: 1) increases OT’s active engagement in the co-design process; 2) increases OT’s use of design-relevant terms, and 3) improves the experience of participants during the co-design process. The primary output of this dissertation is a tool that empowers OTs to be co-equals in the co-design process, a pre-requisite for co-design teams to create more informative design criteria grounded in task-relevant design characteristics. The DTPI consists of several features: 1) a tag function that allow users to analyze environmental interactions during performance at fine-gained task levels, 2) prompts that facilitate consideration of all relevant design characteristics and attributes, and 3) compilation of data to easily visualize results in a way that supports generating design insights. Analysis of the co-design workshops indicate that the DTPI helps OTs to anchor their clinical assessments in more design relevant terms, increase the efficiency at which their assessments are communicated to designers, and increase their proactive contribution in the brainstorming phase of the co-design process. This project has several short- and long-term outcomes. Most immediately, it demonstrates the feasibility of a tool-mediated co-design method to foster more effective collaboration between OTs and designers. Adoption of more effective co-design methods will, over time, result in more effective AT solutions for transfer performance for which there are persisting unmet needs. Further, more effective AT solutions will improve transfer performance, thus enabling individuals aging with disability to remain at home longer, as well as reduce the physical strain on caregivers.
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