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Communication is the glue that holds the Home Usability Network together. Even though not every HUN member will be an “active member” for every usability problem, it will be important to maintain some sort of regular contact with the broader network. This can be done through a weekly/monthly email update, a phone call, or even a meeting. This is a time to share the success stories and pose questions to the entire group.

A CIL staff member will be responsible for facilitating communication with the broader network. However, when a smaller group is activated to solve a specific problem, communication (who talks with whom and how often) will be determined in the Home Usability Plan. For some issues, it could be best for the consumer to reach out to different members, while in others it may make the most sense for the initial contact to come from the center staff. This process can be outlined in the HUP to do lists.

The home usability plan will also help you determine who should be brought in as an active members for each consumer.

Active Member Meeting

People in silhouette against a yellow background holding multi-colored letters that spell "team"

Once you have identified these “active members” we suggest inviting these members to meet with the consumer. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the consumer’s usability problems and begin to outline the steps for moving forward. This meeting can be initiated by either the consumer or the CIL facilitator.

An added benefit of bringing network members together for this meeting is that it helps strengthen the network more broadly. As more network members meet each other the collaboration within the network will grow stronger. You may want to use a teleconference bridge for anyone who cannot participate in person. Over time, you may find that many network members prefer a brief teleconference to in person meetings.

Below is a brief sample agenda to give you an idea of how this meeting may go.


  • Welcome and introductions: have everyone go around and introduce themselves
  • Brief overview of the network and why everyone was brought together
  • Discussion of the usability problems identified in the Home Usability Plan:
    • This may include a discussion of the resources that are already available to work with as well as identifying what is needed
  • Outline next steps with the group
  • Wrap up

You may want to spend some time after the meeting with the consumer to debrief and expand the action steps in the home usability plan.


Having someone keep notes during these meetings is very important. These notes should highlight the usability problems the HUN feels comfortable addressing and any commitments made.  Also, the HUN may identify other individuals who may participate in the HUN or on a particular usability problem. Contact information for these individuals should be noted.

Follow up

Be sure to follow up the meeting with an email out to the group and individual members. This email can be sent by the consumer, the CIL staff, or both. Send out an email to the individual “active” network members that are working on a specific issue. In the email thank them for their participation and remind them of the tasks they committed to working on.

LightbulbHINT! For the meeting make sure you have TREATS! You can’t believe how much a cup of coffee and a donut, cookie, or snack can mean to people. It is a great organizing tool and if people know you have good snacks it is a great added incentive!


Home Usability Examples and Thought Exercises

Below you will find some examples of home usability problems you could encounter during this project. Read through the examples and then spend some time thinking about the questions. Imagine you are working with this consumer for the project. Think about the Home Usability Plan and different actions you and the consumer would need to take to address these different usability problems.

Jot down your ideas on a sheet of paper. When you are finished, review your responses. Is there anything new to the process that you haven’t already identified? Are there potential HUN members that you could add to your list?

Cute HomeExample 1

Brandon, a young man in his 20’s, has been renting a room in a house with roommates while attending college. Brandon uses a manual wheelchair. The kitchen is generally a mess, with books and clutter taking up counter space and limiting access to the stove and sink. In addition, the controls for the stove are located behind the range making it nearly impossible for him to safely reach them. This means the easiest meals to prepare are microwavable TV dinners. Brandon has begun to gain weight and his blood pressure has increased as a result of eating mostly prepared TV dinners. His doctor recommends changing his diet and preparing more food himself, and he agrees.

What are some strategies for addressing this usability need? Who from the usability network might be able to help? Does your HUN have the expertise you need to address this problem or do you need to recruit a new member? What resources would be valuable for addressing Brandon’s problem?

Cute HomeExample 2

A couple is renting a condominium. It is a large complex and units are grouped in settings such as duplexes and triplexes. One person has MS and recently started using a walker and may eventually need a wheelchair. The couple needs to have a ramp put in so she can come and go independently. The home owner’s association has objected to having this ramp built.

Who is needed from your team to address this issue? How do you tackle it, what are the first steps? What tools and materials are needed to help advocate with this couple?

Cute HomeExample 3

You are working with a consumer who has moved into a hi-rise apartment complex that is mixed income (low, medium and market rate). This building has a secure entrance with a key card to enter the building. Your consumer has quadriplegia and cannot manually enter the code. He also needs an automatic door opener for his apartment so he can enter his apartment when he is alone. The owners have given him a key card to enter the building. The problem now is that he needs a PA in the morning to help him get up, dressed, fed and set for the day, and another PA that comes at night to get him ready for bed. He asks for multiple key cards and but the manager says they don’t allow multiple cards for security reasons.

Can you think of any solutions for this? What would you do? Who from a network would be brought on to address this problem?


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