Dialogue appropriate to assistive technology product design: A taxonomy of communication formats in relation to modes of sensory perception
journal contributionposted on 23.04.2018 by George Torrens
Any type of content formally published in an academic journal, usually following a peer-review process.
This article reviews the use of dialogue and associated communication formats within the context of participatory or co-design decision-making processes in the development of assistive technologies. My professional experience as a designer, researcher, and educator suggested the dialogue among the designer, end-user, and associated stakeholders is critical to effective and economic product development. The research I report on here is a systematic analysis of that understanding. First, I conducted a literature review which established that there was no standard meaning for the term “dialogue.” The literature review highlighted the challenges of reduced options for communication through the compounding constraints of culture, language, and impairment. I then conducted a summative content analysis on twenty case studies to identify and define the terminology and points to consider in collaborative dialogue between designers and people who need assistive technologies. This analysis led to the development of a taxonomy of communication formats matched to specific sensory inputs and these have been structured to work as a heuristic design tool. Of the forty-one formats defined, around two-thirds were used in the literature reviewed. Notably, more than half the studies used just over a quarter of the formats. The definitions of dialogue and the design heuristics I put forward in this paper require further debate and refinement to be effective to wider applications.