In this paper I wish to offer a characterization of 'skilled practitioners' from an Ethnomethodological perspective. The skilled practitioner in question is a generic 'hard of hearing' person. The ambition is that such a characterization, both in its making and its final state, may be an intrinsic part of design practices concerning the development of hearing aids. Within design studies, the idea of a skilled practitioner has a host of brothers and sisters all prefaced with the family name 'skilled'- skilled users, skilled workers, skilled employees - but the basic idea is the same for all. Those for whom a design process may ultimately benefit in the form of a product, taken broadly, are skilled, a priori, in the set of practices for which the product is intended. The idea of a skilled practitioner is also prevalent in other areas of study, for example in Activity Theory (Engström, Miettenin & Punamaki 1999), the notion of communities of practice (Wenger 1999), and most importantly for my concerns here, Ethnomethodology (Garfinkel 1967). Currently, the recommendation is that Ethnomethodology, with its focus on the detailed, empirical analysis of people as skilled practitioners of social life, and design, at least those varieties which prioritize ethnographically derived design materials and user involvement, be coupled into a 'hybrid' program (Button & Dourish 1996; Crabtree 2004; Garfinkel (2002). In line with this, I wish here to delineate one way in which this recommendation might be realized through the introspective and observational study of the 'natural' techniques the hard of hearing employ in everyday life.
Proceedings of the Participatory Innovation Conference: Pinc 2011: 13-15 January, Sønderborg, Denmark, 2011