Reading #9: Participatory Design with Amnesiacs

by keith.hcc

This article demonstrates that individuals with memory impairment can be core members of a participatory design team.  In fact, the techniques used by the design team (highly structured design meetings, constant review, independent topics), what we might normally call excessive documentation, illustrate that team members without memory impairment also benefit (and frankly, all of us could use some of these ‘reminder’ techniques in everyday life).  There is also a nice parallel between the participator design techniques used and the resulting design of the product (the Orienting Tool) in that the design process was specifically designed to manage memory gaps and this is also what the tool is designed to manage.  In my opinion, the tools best feature is that it specifically categorized the contents of the reminder (when, what, where and who), forcing the user to follow a particular structure (something that generally assists in memory recovery).  This article is also a fun view into the recent past in that the application was built for an OS and product that we now consider obsolete (PalmOS).  However, nothing in the design of the OrientingTool would prohibit it’s use on today’s smart phone platforms….in fact, it’s probably a good idea.