The Future is Participatory

Collaborative Communication Design for Global Health Initiatives


  • Myra Thiessen
  • Leah Heiss
  • Troy McGee
  • Gene Bawden


Tactile tools, Co-design, Participatory Design, Communication Design, Global Health


The World Health Organization develops and delivers a range of technical documents outlining best practice procedures with the aim of improving global health outcomes and with emphasis on supporting low- and middle-income countries. However, these guidelines and other normative standard-setting products tend to have low uptake and implementation in the countries and communities they aim to reach due a range of system-level barriers and decision-making processes. These barriers are compounded by a disconnect between the individuals who are involved in the develop-ment of the guideline, typically experts from high-income countries, and those who are expected to implement them at the country level, typically in middle- and low-income countries. In order to address this problem, we employ the Digital Tactile Tools co-design method in an online workshop as a means to understand the lived experience of implementing guidelines in local country contexts. By drawing on participatory design, we speculate about how alternative approaches to generating and testing communica-tion design processes at scale can be a viable and important means of developing more inclusive and responsive global health guidance. With this example, we hypothesize that communication futures that consider the wider context and the environmental factors impacting how information is used and understood will lead to more successful health initiatives.





Journal Article