Using Elderly as Lead Users for Universal Engineering Design


Sujithra Raviselvam, Meghann Noonan and Katja Holtta Otto


F2. User involvement and participation

Date and Time

2014-06-18, 12:30 - 13:10


MA 9
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A design that adheres to all users’ needs, can help us generate universally designed products. While nothing is as thorough as active co-design with end users, other less resource intensive approaches are needed as well. We investigate the concept of lead users as a source for ideas on universal design. Specifically we investigate how elderly i.e. people over the age of 65, can act as lead users while designing for the general population. The main idea behind this is that, the elderly may be able to articulate more needs when compared to the general population and the outcome attained by addressing these needs would be preferred by all. We propose a combination of product function and human activity based approach. The elderly survey participants are asked to indicate tasks which they have difficulty completing and universal design rules are derived using those results. We then empirically test the rules by designing set of products based on those rules. The products are then evaluated by both the general population and the elderly. We find that, the products designed by fixing elderly as lead users are either preferred over or equally to the existing products also by the general population.