The work discussed in this thesis contrasts traditional interviewing perspectives with those of phenomenological methods for conducting research for use in the development of assistive technology. Assistive technology helps to provide greater independence by enabling people to perform tasks that they were formerly unable to accomplish, or had great difficulty accomplishing, by providing enhancements to, or changing methods of interacting with, the technology needed to accomplish such tasks. However, users of certain technologies from the field, such as visually impaired users of navigational devices, often report dissatisfaction based on features of the device that are necessarily linked with their experiences with it. The goal of this comparative analysis is to examine whether incorporating methodology from the field of phenomenology (the discipline of philosophy that studies human experience) would yield a different end result of product/object and development and usability than that obtained from traditional third-person and focus group methodologies, currently employed by designers of assistive technology. Further, this thesis will argue that the kind of data that is gathered from phenomenological interviewing and experimentation, allows for a more complete report of the potential users needs and expectations than traditional focus group reports, consequently providing answers that designers can use to make more informed decisions about the design of their products. Finally, the thesis concludes by providing suggestions regarding the implementation of new directions for phenomenologically informed research for the design of assistive technology.
Ramos, Rafael M. IV, "Improving Assistive Technology Through Phenomenology: A Comparative Analysis of Research Methods" (2012). Honors College. 76.