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PDX Design Research Group

Connective DX Community Room
2030 NW Pettygrove St
Portland, OR 97209, US (map)

Please note: If you arrive after 7:00 pm, you will not be able to get into the building. Please plan to arrive at least a few minutes before then, as there won't be anyone to let you in.


Join us at the next PDX Design Research Group meeting on Wednesday, September 16th, 2015!

Teach a Grandmother, Change the World (R&D for Illiterate Populations), presented by Elena Moon and Jos Vaught, Osage Orange

How do you design a tablet app for poor, rural users who have never handled a digital device? What do you do when they speak no common language, and lack the ability to read in their own?

Last year Elena and Jos traveled to Rajasthan, India, to learn from an international group of grandmothers who were learning to become solar engineers, despite a lack of literacy. Each had traveled from a different part of the world to participate in the 6-month Solar Grandmother program, hosted by India’s Barefoot College, a 40-year-old grassroots institution dedicated to helping marginalized people build skills that bring solutions. After graduation, these women would bring light back to their villages -- light that means night classes for children, reduced danger from assault and rape, and less need for kerosene lanterns, improving the local air quality. In many cases, these Solar Grandmothers become respected leaders, presenting a model for women’s empowerment to the rest of their community.

This project focused on the challenges graduates faced upon returning to their villages. Since the necessary solar equipment can take months to arrive, graduates can struggle to maintain the skills they learned, often with little initial support from their communities. Osage Orange wanted to learn whether a digital tablet could help ease the transition, by extending and maintaining the skills learned during training. Over the course of three weeks, Osage Orange led a team of designers in interviewing and observing 60 Solar Grandmothers and their Barefoot teachers, both in class and back in their villages. Elena and Jos will walk us through that process, and share what they found.

Osage Orange, a human-centered design boutique based in Portland, Oregon, works with a variety of clients, from fortune 50s to startups, helping businesses research, conceptualize, and design elegant, compelling products. They work on complex problems across many industries, whether it’s an education platform for illiterate, rural poor communities, or a spaceship interface for NASA astronauts. Increasingly, their work focuses on projects which promote positive social and environmental outcomes.,

Elena Moon is a User Experience Consultant and the founder of Osage Orange. She has been doing a mix of research and design for the last 15 years and particularly enjoys socially and environmentally conscious projects. Her work has supported community agriculture, open source education, home energy conservation, and the deaf-blind community. She was a recipient of the Thomas J. Watson fellowship to conduct anthropology work with indigenous peoples in Australia and Papua New Guinea and has been involved with Portland's Interaction Design Association for many years, leading it from 2012-2014.

Jos Vaught is the lead User Experience Designer of Osage Orange. He has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a master’s in Applied Linguistics. From 2012-2014 he served as a co-organizer for Portland’s Interactive Design Association.

Date: Wednesday, September 16th, 2015 Time: Networking 6:30 – 7:00 pm, presentation 7:00 – 8:00 pm Location: Connective DX

Check out PDX Design Research Group's new Meetup page: http://www.meetup.com/PDX-Design-Research-Group/