Moving beyond functionality and safety. Challenges in designing AT for wellbeing.
Conference contribution, 2018
Assistive Technologies (AT) can help people with impairments maintain independence and decrease the need for hospital care and/or personal assistance. Nevertheless, studies show that many devices are rejected, claimed not to fulfil users’ needs and requirements. As part of a design project, two user studies were completed with the assumption that present AT designs do not sufficiently consider all different types of user requirements. Altogether 36 AT users were interviewed, the interviews transcribed and their contents analysed. Two main categories of requirements emerged, one concerned the “technical whole “(i.e. requirements for technical functionality, efficiency, safety, etc.), the other the “ergonomic whole” (i.e. requirements for comfort, usability, etc.). However, also a third category surfaced, referred to as the “communicative whole”, which included requirements for aesthetics, identity, meaning, etc. Information on these “softer” values were found to be more difficult to elicit compared to other types of information even though fundamental for the AT not to result in negative associations and vital to address in designing for wellbeing.