TORRENS, G., 2014. How user-centred is assistive technology design?. Presented at Naidex 2014, National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, 29th April - 1st May 2014.
This presentation draws upon 25 year’s experience working with people who have impairments and live with disability. The presentation highlights the scope of the issues facing those with impairment or disability within current UK society; the challenges facing designers in this field relating to user acceptance of AT products provided; and, the associated stigma. The context of AT products are defined within a user-centred new product development (NPD) process. The viewpoint of the user, associated stakeholders and a wider UK society are described, along with their associated preferences. The generic mechanisms of perception and emotional response to a product are discussed and mapped onto the given process. The semantics of words images and forms are shown to be critical influences on the perception of an individual and society. The presentation provides an example process and design tools that has been practically applied through many successful AT product developments. Further examples of current Finalist student product designs will demonstrate some of the principles described. The process described uses a combination of conventional evidenced-based NPD alongside specific methods of the manipulation of perception and semantic meaning. Design tools such as value web-diagrams, technology footprint, iconography and product DNA are demonstrated within the NPD examples. In conclusion, the expansion of the market is discussed and demonstrated through changing perceptions and responses to an AT-focused product using alternative words and forms to emphasise ‘enhanced living’. Ways in which businesses and inventors may effectively use Universities and associated resources are sign-posted.
This is a presentation that was given at the Birmingham NEC at Naidex 2014