Technology increasingly provides opportunities to interact remotely with others. People with cognitive impairment can be excluded from these opportunities when technology is not designed with their needs, preferences, and abilities in mind. Mild dementia is one form of cognitive impairment that is experienced by many individuals worldwide. Little is known about how technology should be designed to support people with mild dementia. In addressing this gap, this project has the potential to benefit not only people with dementia, but also researchers, caregivers, and the general public, who currently lack opportunities to interact with and learn from people with dementia. This project will also train the next generation of technology researchers and designers in two key ways: 1) with a remote dementia lab that scaffolds design activities involving end-users with dementia, and 2) by co-developing and disseminating modules with people with dementia, disability advocates, and healthcare professionals that can be flexibly integrated into human-centered design courses.
The goal of this project is to design, develop, and evaluate approaches to support and study inclusive collaborative technologies that support people with mild dementia in remote interaction. The project will investigate: 1) empirical knowledge of preferences, benefits, and barriers experienced by people with mild dementia in using digital collaborative tools; 2) new interaction techniques to engage people with dementia in remote collaborative technology use through the iterative development of three novel applications; 3) a theoretical understanding of how established Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) theories can be adapted for dementia; 4) a validated framework for designing for people with mild dementia; and 5) innovative methods to remotely include people with dementia in design activities. In order to achieve these goals, this project involves research threads targeting three diverse domains (social, purpose-oriented, and cognitive) and interaction partners (peers with dementia, mixed ability groups of older adults, and caregivers). This project has the potential to transform research, design, development, and deployment of technologies for people with cognitive impairment, advancing collaborative technology design from highly customized and bespoke technology to an area ripe for scalable development and deployment.