An Approach to Empathic Design for Assistive Technology
The levels of income and employment rates of people with disabilities are often lower than those without them. An effective way to free disabled people from these circumstances would be to design proper job accommodation for them. Ordinarily, physical conditions severely restrict their ability to carry out their work efficiently unless they have are provided with appropriately designed assistive technology (AT). However, due to the physical conditions unique to each disabled person, understanding the requirements of a disabled person is often a challenge to an AT designer. The aims of this research were to develop a design model for an empathy tool that would assist in the process of designing AT for job accommodation, and to explore the relationship between the use of empathy tools and the improvement of design elements in job accommodation AT. The design models employed were developed by analysing interviews with AT users and examining the results of observations and a literature review. The model was then used to build an empathy tool to be used in designing job accommodation AT for a selected subject; the empathy tools were used in a series of assessments of designer users. The results show that, when compared with tools used in traditional design briefs, empathy tools can successfully help designers to improve design elements in terms, respectively, of their understanding of users’ physical abilities (22 per cent), work requirements (26.6 per cent), ergonomic requirements (22.8 per cent), and environment characteristics (21.4 per cent). Meanwhile, it is difficult for the tool to improve upon other design elements, about which one must learn by gaining design experience.
- PhD