The PISHI Concept:

Persona Inclusion for open Source assistive tecHnology Innovation

Research through Design - My Master's Thesis Project
Project Overview
I created a persona technique for increasing inclusion in the design process of Open Source Assistive Technologies. I named this technique "the PISHI Concept", where PISHI stands for Persona Inclusion for open Source assistive tecHnology Innovation.
My Contributions
  • Created a forkable and diffable template for personas to bridge the world of designers and Open Source developers
  • Proposed a new model for personas that represents the people with impairments alongside their close circle of helpers (family members, friends, ...) who use Assistive Technologies
  • Provided means of increasing the inclusion of people with impairments, their close circle, and designers in the design process of Open Source Assistive Technologies
Key Challenges
  • Current design practices fails to consider people with disabilities in their context of use and their interactions with others.
  • People with disabilities are often observed individually and based on the type and severity of their impairments.
  • Opensource approaches to the Design of Assistive Technologies often exclude users and designers in the creation of solutions.
Design Perspective
  • The person with disabilities accomplishes higher difficulty in collaboration with their close circle of helpers.
  • Family members come together from different backgrounds with different levels of knowledge, abilities, skills, and motivations.
  • To find means of inclusion in the design process of Open Source Assistive Technology.
  • Followed the iterative process of Double Diamond of Design
  • Iterated through different iterations of Persona Creation to offer a representation tool to be used in the design process of Open Source Assistive Technologies.
Main Outcome: The PISHI Personas

Personas created following the PISHI Concept in summary are a hybrid of conventional individual personas and group personas, which put the person with impairments in the center of the circle of use. The family members, friends, and/or caretakers are the members of the close circle of the person with impairments. In our study, we established that assistive technologies are often groupwares. The use of such systems can be modeled through the distributed cognitive framework, meaning that the cognitive load of the tasks gets distributed across the members of the circle of use. Thus, instead of analysing each individual and representing them through indiviudal personas, we look at them as a collaborative group. This group representation still puts the direct user of the system in the center while realizing their interactions with the other members of the circle of use. This template brings to light some of the formerly overlooked characteristics of such constructs such as the collective knowledge, experience, and expertise of the close circle of use.

A visual representation of the personas created using the PISHI Concept - The persona represents the Mavericks family and their characteristics, at the center of the persona, individual characteristics of the person with impairments is emphasized
Side Outcomes: Persona Templates Sharable on Git

One of the main outcomes of this design process were the markdown templates created to represent conventional (Individual) Personas, Collaboration Personas, and personas created through the PISHI Concept. The markdown templates allow for the personas to be shared, forked, edited, etc. on Git repositories and the changes made to such personas can be trackable. Custom CSS can be added to these templates to create visual representations similar to representations created using current practices for creating personas.