Communication Beyond Language: Using Participatory Design Toolkits to Transcend Lingual, Cultural, and Technical Barriers


This study investigates the effectiveness of using participatory design toolkits to create communications across diverse participants. It evaluates and provides an effective method to assist inter-generational and cross-cultural communications, especially with people who do not speak English well. This research helps to include voices from underrepresented communities in the United States and increase awareness of their needs and situations. The qualitative research methods, including interviews, open-ended surveys, and reflective writings were used to help understand the benefits and impact of the toolkits and relevant methods. The result of the research demonstrates improved communication and enhanced learning experience from users across different age groups and cultural backgrounds. The limitation of the research is the participants’ sample size. But we are enrolling more participants moving forward. The research demonstrates that well-designed participatory design toolkits, with an emphasis on participants’ cultural contexts and lived experiences, can greatly enhance communication even if participants face multiple barriers. Further studies will explore more innovative media to create targeted participatory design toolkits, thus bringing more underrepresented voices to the mainstream.


Juanjuan "June" He
Assistant Professor, Product Design, Drexel University, Pennsylvania, United States


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


2023 Special Focus—New Agendas for Design: Principles of Scale, Practices of Inclusion


Participatory Design Toolkit, Co-Design, Inclusion, Communication, Language Barrier, Community-Based Participatory Design, Older Adults, Asian, Immigrants

Digital Media


Communication Beyond Language (Embed)


Communication Beyond Language (mov)