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Neurotechnology pioneers, please design with the end-user in mind

John Kemp, Pres­i­dent & CEO at The Vis­car­di Cen­ter and The Hen­ry Vis­car­di School in New York

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The impor­tance of being seen, heard and under­stood for neu­rotech­nol­o­gy end-users (Cen­ter for Neu­rotech­nol­o­gy at Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton):

Today, when real­is­tic-look­ing pros­thet­ic hands with artic­u­lat­ing fin­gers are becom­ing more wide­ly avail­able, one of the first things many peo­ple notice about John Kemp is that he choos­es to use pros­thet­ic met­al clamps instead of hands.

These don’t look func­tion­al,” Kemp said, hold­ing up his clamps. “They’re high­ly func­tion­al. I wear these all day. I need func­tion. I need reli­able and durable equip­ment.”

Kemp, who was born with­out arms and legs, uses two leg pros­the­ses in addi­tion to his pros­thet­ic met­al hand-clamps. Although he could opt for high­er-tech solu­tions for his upper body, Kemp asserts that the clamps do every­thing he needs, and they have the added ben­e­fit of being more durable than most high-tech pros­thet­ic hands. Plus, he can fix his hand-clamps him­self if some­thing breaks, which is impor­tant for a man who reg­u­lar­ly trav­els the globe…

Kemp used his hand-clamps at the CNT’s August Prac­ti­tion­er and End-User Round­table as a metaphor describ­ing what many in the dis­abil­i­ty com­mu­ni­ty have expe­ri­enced when try­ing to find a pros­thet­ic that works well. High-tech solu­tions are not nec­es­sar­i­ly the right choice for every­one, and all too often neu­rotech­nol­o­gy is designed with­out care­ful­ly assess­ing the user’s wants and needs first.

The user expe­ri­ence has to be para­mount and has to be respect­ed,” Kemp said. “The engi­neer has to lis­ten very care­ful­ly to what the per­son [neu­rotech­nol­o­gy end-user] wants to do and not sub­sti­tute their judg­ment or desires for the per­son. Even if they dis­agree, they can­not sub­sti­tute. They have to fol­low what the per­son wants to do with their pros­the­ses. It’s about help­ing a per­son ful­fill their wish­es.”

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Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Health & Wellness, Technology

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