Searching for ways to elicit 'soft' user requirement for assistive technology
Conference contribution, 2018
Users do not always adopt assistive technology (AT), but abandon it since it fails to meet their needs. Some users experience stigmatisation. Historically, AT design has focused on functionality, performance and safety. However, for AT users, other less tangible, 'softer' areas are also important, such as sensory, emotional, hedonist and social needs. The focus on the more tangible aspects of AT is probably one explanation why it often does not meet users' needs or fit into users’ everyday lives. Therefore, AT designers must also understand users’ ‘soft’ requirements. In this project, aimed to design a user-friendly AT device for short-distance individual transfers indoors, 36 user interviews were carried out. In the interviews, pictures of AT devices were used to visualise the AT concept under development. Fifteen of the interviews included questionnaires with semantic differential scales. The study showed the importance of actively triggering the users to reflect on issues beyond functionality and safety, and that the use of pictures and semantic scales had an effect on the characterof the data elicited. The implications are that users need support in envisaging both the product being designed and its functional context in order to express requirements for soft qualities.