This week, we read the chapter on Interviews and Focus Groups from Lazar et al.’s Research Methods in Human-Computer Interaction, as well as two other interview papers of our choosing.
I first read Kane et al.’s “At times avuncular and cantankerous, with the reflexes of a mongoose”: Understanding Self-Expression through Augmentative and Alternative Communication Devices. Even just reading the piece, I was able to able to better understand some of the struggles that ALS patients have with their communication devices, and what an assistive technology might do and look like in a dream world for them. Understanding their anecdotal frustrations and using them to improve future work is so important to move from “making assistive technology” to “making useful assistive tech for the target audience.”
I then read Shinohara and Wobbrock’s In the shadow of misperception: assistive technology use and social interactions. In a similar vein to the Kane et al.’s piece, they interviewed people about the social perception, connotation, and effect of their assistive devices. It’s not uncommon for people to abandon or refuse certain assistive devices because of their social connotations or observed effects. The anecdotes about people offering unsolicited “help” are unsurprising to me, but I was surprised at how much farther people often went beyond “unhelpful” into “harmful” because there was essential no understanding of how assistive devices worked.