In fact there are 4 types of 'care givers': public, commercial, informal and social profit. The social profit is a very diverse sector with a lot of subsectors. We met a lot of policy makers. We've got to know the differences in Europe and beyond. Representatives of various social profit organisations expressed that 'the sky is the limit' when it comes to the potential of techology in their sector! Engineers; what are you waiting for?!
What would a world without engineers look like? A whole different place! A knife can cut, but a knife can also... Assisted living allows people to live longer in their houses, but also has a backside... Yes indeed, technology makes things possible, but we also have to think about a lot of deontological issues!
Can we translate the terms of empowerment, participation and inclusion into concepts that we can take into account when we are designing? Yes! We managed to grasp the essentials thanks to VAPH, the European Community Development Network, Dr. Pascal Tuteleers (Hogent), Dr. Carmen Mathijssen (Cera), Passwerk, Dr. Machteld Verbruggen and Dr. Wilfried Bogaerts.
'Understand and specify the context of use' is an important phase of the Human Centred Design Cycle. In order to understand the end user, we need to dare to inquire. Appreciative Inquiry is about the coevolutionary search for the best in people, their organisations, and the relevant world around them. This gives high energy. Energy, we will use to start the real project work!
How to look at vulnerability? How to interact with the so called vulnerable groups while designing? These are difficult questions. Prof. Ive Marx, various researchers at Thomas More and representatives of Fevlado (assisted by 2 Flemish Sign Language interpreters), ALS Liga, Spond vzw, Federatie Basiseducatie and Vlaams Patiëntenplatform (all advocacy organisations) really gave revealing answers.
In making the connection with the end user for technology, good communication skills are crucial. We did not only learn about the theory of verbal and non-verbal communication, the curse of knowledge and dialoguing (active listening and skilful questioning), but also put the theory into practise via exercises. We reflected upon how (in our project work) we could really make the connection with our end users and lead groups in co-creation.
Week 2 - Community Service Engineering - User Centred Design is a basic topic for the course. User Centred Design involves the end user while designing. All assignments in CSE have the User Centred Design cycle as a basis. Methods for human centred design (Maguire) were explained. We visited LiCalab, the Living & Care lab that has a real-life test invironment. We learned about of potential technology for the sector at Mobilab. Participatory Design is one step beyond 'User Centred Design'. 'Participatory Design' is the design philophy that puts the end user in an equal position as the designer. And of course we also touched the topic of Universal Design (Design for all).
Week 1 – Community Service Engineering, what did we do? Well, we played boccia, a Paralympic discipline, coached by the experts of Sint-Lodewijk; we listened to many inspiring technological proposals in the CSE context and we experienced firsthand the enormous challenges in elderly care in Dijlehof and De Wingerd.