Engaging Low-Income African American Older Adults in Health Discussions through Community-based Design Workshops

Harrington, Christina; Borgos-Rodriguez, Katya; Piper, Anne Marie
Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems

Community-based approaches to participatory design, such as the design workshop, promise to engage underserved populations in collaborative dialog and provide a platform for promoting the views of communities who are not typically given a space to engage in design. Yet, we know little about how design workshops as a research site can engage underserved individuals (i.e., due to class, race, or age status) or address personal concerns (e.g., health). As a way of exploring these issues, we conducted a series of five design workshops with low-income African-American older adults to understand their health experiences. Our findings reveal three insights associated with the design workshop and the topic of health: comfort with community versus personal health; the sociocultural configuration of interaction; and empowerment in the context of systematic inequality of opportunity. We discuss the importance of understanding the situated nature of design workshops, particularly when engaging underserved groups in the topic of health, and the potential of the design workshop as a mechanism for activism.