The design of technologies and devices to support independent aging-in-place has become more relevant than ever as more adults continue to age longer. In-home approaches to health monitoring and management span physical devices and equipment such as blood pressure monitors and wearables to online health portals and information resources. Older adults report being more interested in technology and are increasingly reporting increased ownership of such devices in their homes. In-home information technologies stand to provide valuable resources for subgroups of older adults that face additional barriers to self-monitoring and health management. Despite this promise, older adults marginalized along identities of race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality representation, class, and other dimensions of identity are not considered as central to the design of these systems. One might argue that our current scope of human-centered design does not consider variables that create such technological dissonance, and these systems then become the very cause of health inequities as system adoption among marginalized older adults decreases and health outcomes are impacted. There is a need to understand and identify best practices and criteria of design that meet the needs of marginalized subgroups of the older adult population. In this presentation I discuss some of the research I’ve done looking at the value in considering such constructs in the design of technologies which support older adults and the approaches to research, design, and technology engagement that support older adults at the margins of society.
Christina N. Harrington is a designer and qualitative researcher who focuses on understanding and conceptualizing technology experiences that support health and wellness among older adults and individuals with disabilities. Her research seeks to find ways to employ design as a catalyst for health equity and socially responsible technology experiences. She explores concepts of health through community-based participatory design and co-creation, considering health management as a sociotechnical experience. She believes that constructs of identity and social positioning impact our interactions with technology, including individual access to online information, the relevance of certain systems in our everyday lives, and the ways we accept certain interventions. Through participatory research methods she explores constructs of empowerment and access among vulnerable communities that have been marginalized along multiple dimensions of identity (age, race, ethnicity, income, class). Harrington is an Assistant Professor in the College of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul University and the Director of the Equity and Health Innovations Design Research Lab.
Dr. Harrington received her Ph.D. in Industrial Design with a focus on accessible interaction design from Georgia Tech in the fall of 2017. She earned a Master’s in Industrial Design from North Carolina State University and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Virginia Tech. You can see more about her work and research interests at http://www.christinaharrington.me.