Shared Language and the Design of Home Healthcare Technology

Alison B Burrows, Rachael Gooberman-Hill, David Coyle

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)

15 Citations (Scopus)
613 Downloads (Pure)


Words and language are central to most human communication. This paper explores the importance of language for the participatory design of smart home technologies for healthcare. We argue that to effectively involve a broad range of users in the design of new technologies, it is important to actively develop a shared language that is accessible to and owned by all stakeholders, and that facilitates productive dialogues among them. Our discussion is grounded firstly in work with end users, in which problematic language emerged as a key barrier to participation and effective design. Three specific categories of language barriers are identified: jargon, ambiguity, and emotive words. Building on this we undertook a workshop and focus group, respectively involving researchers developing smart health technologies and users, where the focus was on generating a shared language. We discuss this process, including examples that emerged of alternative terminology and specific strategies for creating a shared language.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 34th Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI'16)
Place of PublicationNew York, NY, USA
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)978145033362
Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2016
Event34th Annual CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2016: chi4good - San Jose, United States
Duration: 7 May 201612 May 2016
Conference number: 34


Conference34th Annual CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2016
Abbreviated titleCHI 2016
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Jose
OtherFor those who are finding out about CHI – pronounced kai – for the first time, CHI is a place to see, discuss and learn about the future of how people interact with technology. At any minute you might experience a new gesture interface for tablets, learn how developing countries use mobile phones for maternal health, play soccer against someone 3000 miles away, or debate the future of online education. You’ll meet with top researchers from universities, corporations and startups from across the world, as well as the brightest student scientists, designers, and researchers. It’s a place to find your community, to talk about your toughest problems, and to find your next job.
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Structured keywords

  • Digital Health


  • Participatory design
  • language
  • smart home technology
  • healthcare technology
  • inclusive design
  • personas


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