The participatory design amnesia study was certainly an interesting idea. In addition to addressing the issue of designing and testing for a “disabled” population, one of the things that it highlighted for me is the difficulty in trying to design something with a goal of making lives safer. The problem that was outlined was how can you test to see if an intervention technique or device is truly helping a human “be safe” if they cannot test that human in a “dangerous” situation. It was also interesting to note how quickly technologies are now becoming anachronistic. While this study is less than 10 years old, the use of the Palm pilot (as opposed to a smart phone) makes the study seem almost ancient. IT certainly supports the Kurzweillian theory that the rate technological innovation is expanding at an exponential rate and the curve itself is getting exponentially steeper.
The Sears/Hansen paper (Wasn’t Sears at UMBC at some point in his career?), further emphasizes the issue of testing a system designed for users of unique or specific talents and/or abilities. It also talks about, what I am discovering from Dr. Kuber’s Assistive and Rehabilitative Technology course this semester, is the major problem of getting enough of a representative population to have a decent sample size. May of the studies that we are reviewing for that class have representative population participants for their studies in the single digits, which I always assumed is too small. It was interesting to read of their assessment of using non-representative users in the preliminary evaluations as one way to attempt to at least partially address this problem.