The United States Census predicts that by 2030, one in five people will be over the age of 65. Such rapid growth of the older adult population presents opportunities and challenges. One challenge is supporting the mental health of older adults at higher risk for loneliness due to limited mobility, changes in their in-person support networks, or lack of transportation. For older adults with late-life disabilities, it becomes increasingly difficult to connect with others online and offline. In this talk, I will offer an alternative to how we think about aging communities and technology for social well-being based on a positive aging framework by leveraging voice-only interfaces rather than screen-based interfaces. I will discuss how two voice-based interfaces, (1) interactive voice response systems and (2) conversational voice assistants, can be used as tools to foster social support among older adults with limited access to computers and smartphones and older adults with late-life disability.
Robin Brewer is an Assistant Professor in the School of Information at the University of Michigan. She also holds a courtesy appointment in Computer Science and Engineering. Robin’s research in human-computer interaction asks how experiences with technology can be more accessible to digitally constrained communities. Much of her work focuses on older adults and people with vision impairments. Robin holds a Ph.D. in Technology and Social Behavior from Northwestern University, M.S. in Human-Centered Computing from University of Maryland - Baltimore County, and B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Maryland - College Park.