Inclusive Design for Assistive Technology

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Objectives/focus/background: Design for Assistive Technology (AT) requires a special focus on user-requirements during product development. Inclusive Design theory and methodology thus has been relevant to AT design processes. Research in AT design has both drawn from and added to the ID knowledge base. However, the conditions under which mainstream ID operates are not the same as those for AT. The scale of projects is smaller as tend to be the organisations that do such work. The models for ID design processes are designed for commercially-driven, medium-to-large scale concerns. This raises the question of whether AT design processes fit neatly into a model created for a different context .

Semi-structured interviews were carried out with eight/nine designers of assistive technology. This provided raw data concerning the processes used by the designers in a range of products including a wheelchair for children, a washbasin system, a rollator and breathing apparatus for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder.

The interviews conducted showed that there was required a different emphasis in the means by which users´ requirements were incorporated into the design process. The reported methods used differed from the main recommended theoretical models of design process. Some instances of design for AT more closely resembled the prototyping than design for mass production. Some examples showed that industry standards are more amenable to modification in the light of design innovation.

Design for AT has some overlap with design for mainstream Inclusive Design but there are number of important differences of emphasis. Two in particular are a) that user investigations must draw on stakeholders other than users (carers and medical professionals) when gathering user requirements and conducting verification testing and b) prototyping becomes a more important element of the design process.
Publikationsdato16 jun. 2014
StatusUdgivet - 16 jun. 2014

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