Co-Design methods and plans
We used a variety of co-design methods to achieve the best results for our user. These were chosen based on their suitability for our case as well as our participant's ability to carry them out.
Based on the goals we set, co-design methods were constructed.
Get to know the participants:
The difficulties the participant encounters
What does the participant enjoy doing
What kind of system or product does the participant want
What kind of tools does the participant already have and use
Do some of the tools the participant owns need improving
We first got to know our participant via an online meeting, not knowing in which stage his ataxia would be. Research was done about ataxia and keeping the symptoms in mind, a list of questions was made in preparation for the online meeting. During the meeting, we discovered that communication with the participant is quite a challenge. Luckily, after we introduced ourselves and explained the intention of the project, the participant introduced himself and their disease. Now we got to know the participant, we were able to think about co-design methods for future meetings. Read about these methods in a context mapping study. In this study, you can also find more information about the participant and their disability.
Daily life & Tools
The participant lives in an apartment with 24/7 assistance available. His house has wider doors which open with a button and is spatially furnished to make it easier to use a wheelchair. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the participant has physiotherapy sessions. Next to this, the participant does some exercises themself besides the physiotherapy sessions, like tapping all fingers with their thumb to train fine muscle coordination. On the weekends, the participant likes to order food instead of getting dinner from the assistance of the apartment. The participant also goes to the supermarket to do some groceries shopping with their scoot mobile.
The result of the daily life reconstruction is shown in the pictures on the left.
Struggles & possible Design Challenges
We first discovered that the participant has difficulty with speaking. They have speech therapy to learn tricks to articulate words more clearly and become more understandable, the participant for instance has a specific breathing method but this does cost a lot of energy. The participant wished the design challenge to be a device that makes them better understandable, especially for when the participant is on the phone. But since we are not the best programmers we looked further into other difficulties the participant has.
Further, the participant struggles with fine muscle coordination as is known for ataxia. The participant for instance has difficulty with typing and writing with a pen. The participant does not wish for a solution for typing, because it is a good exercise to train their finger coordination. Later after meeting them in person, we discovered that fine motor coordination becomes even more difficult when this is combined with having to apply force, such as opening a window. After the first physical meeting we learned more about their living situation. The wheelchair the participant is in, does not have standards for their feet to rest on, which allows the participant to move forward by “walking” while seated. Using their legs as much as possible could postpone or prevent any further deterioration. During the timeline Co-Design method we discovered several activities. The participant does not encounter difficulties while washing themself.
We also discovered while the participant was showing their computer with special adaptations that the participant has very limited sight. But this problem seemed to be solved. To still be able to use their computer, everything on their screen is enlarged, when hovering over icons and text.
We also discovered that the participant can not cook, their food is prepared by the care home. At the end of the physical meeting we asked if the participant could email us when they stumbled upon a problem that was not mentioned before. This worked. At the end of the week we got an email saying that the participant has trouble with opening and closing of twist caps. Such as Dubbeldrank and crystal clear.
We tried email exchange for specific questions, but we discovered that online meetings and physical meetings are more efficient. We had another online meeting and we went to another physical meeting to gain more insight on the opening and closing of twist caps. During this second physical meeting we perceived the following. The participant is able to squeeze with his hand and still apply force for opening a cap, he could open a bottle with the motion required when using a wrench. He can open bigger lids such as a peanut butter jar. Meaning he can open lids using the palm of his hand.
Below you can find the plan for the second physical meeting.
As we want the participant to like the design and appearance of the product, we wanted to get to know their style preference. After we got to know the participant, we had an impression of what they would like, but we wanted to be sure. Therefore, we made three collages in different styles; minimalistic, organic and industrial. We showed these to the participant instead of just asking them what their style was as this gives a clear image of what we mean with the names and prevents misunderstanding of them. The participant directly mentioned that they find it more important that the product would work, above having an appealing design. However, the participant indicated that they preferred the minimalistic style, secondly the futuristic and finally the organic & natural collage.
Our co-designer claims to adore Apple products, owing to their sleek design and ease of use. We created a style collage based on his preferences (image 1). Based on this, we will tailor the design to his personal preferences.