Human-Centered Design: A Perspective From Fredonia

In this blog post, a member of the project team (Kara Hall) reflects on human-centered design and her educational path. Kara is a senior Psychology major at SUNY Fredonia in Chautauqua County. 

It is the fall semester, of senior year at SUNY Fredonia; the time of year to acknowledge the end of four great years and plan for the beginning of many more.  Throughout college we all can recall those significant moments that helped answer the unavoidable question of “what’s next?” 

I am a psychology major; which means that most people assume that I will be a counselor when I graduate. This is not true.  I find the cognitive processes of our human brains much too interesting to not take part in the evolution of our knowledge on them. Given this information, I do not enjoy the tedious side of lab work and the limited time spent with real world people.

I wanted a mix of both worlds; and in that I found the field of human centered design.

Human-Centered Design at the Graduate level can come in several formats including Engineering Psychology, Human factors, Cognitive Science or by its given name Human-Centered Design. The difference between the areas of study is what the focus of each is on, although they all adhere to the ultimate goal of designing a product to fit the needs of the user.  In a world where technology has given designers the freedom to imagine an endless array of possible outcomes there needs to be someone in place to make sure the people still have a voice. 

There are many places in our country today where the “voice” of individuals seems to be muted. Human-Centered Design and the Aging by Design initiative will hopefully help drive a new era in which individuals are heard for the wisdom they have to give rather than the problem they are recognized for.  

I am originally from Genesee County but I reside in Chautauqua County, specifically Fredonia/Dunkirk, for most of the year.  From my short time living in each county I have heard only some of the individual stories that make up these amazing communities.

Aging By Design will allow the individuals an active voice in the evolution of their communities. Many of whom have lived in these towns their whole lives. The wisdom they have to offer is generations old and inconceivably insightful. The conclusions the team will draw from the data collected will be much more than a qualitative analysis - a history of the older adults of western New York. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work with and learn from older adults across Western and Central New York over the next few months.