Seeking information about assistive technology: Exploring current practices, challenges, and the need for smarter systems
Jamie Danemayer, Cathy Holloway, Youngjun Cho, Nadia Berthouze, Aneesha Singh, William Bhot, Ollie Dixon, Marko Grobelnik, John Shawe-Taylor
Paper highlights: Assistive technology (AT) information networks are insular among stakeholder groups, causing unequal access to information. Participants often cited fragmented international marketplaces as a barrier and valued info-sharing across industries. Current searches produce biased results in marketplaces influenced by commercial interests and high-income contexts. Smart features could facilitate searching, update centralised data sources, and disseminate information more inclusively.
Ninety percent of the 1.2 billion people who need assistive technology (AT) do not have access. Information seeking practices directly impact the ability of AT producers, procurers, and providers (AT professionals) to match a user's needs with appropriate AT, yet the AT marketplace is interdisciplinary and fragmented, complicating information seeking. We explored common limitations experienced by AT professionals when searching information to develop solutions for a diversity of users with multi-faceted needs. Through Template Analysis of 22 expert interviews, we find current search engines do not yield the necessary information, or appropriately tailor search results, impacting individuals’ awareness of products and subsequently their availability and the overall effectiveness of AT provision. We present value-based design implications to improve functionality of future AT-information seeking platforms, through incorporating smarter systems to support decision-making and need-matching whilst ensuring ethical standards for disability fairness remain.
International Journal of Human-Computer Studies; 2023