Healthy ageing

Adapt Tech, Accessible Technology (ATAT) Project

Relevance: When looking at technology targeted at the ageing population, it ranges from age-friendly smart tablets and smart homes to personal assistive robots. However, much of the technology developed for, and provided to, older adults are passively given ‘to them’, and are not actively chosen or developed by older people. Designers can often make assumptions about the types of technology older adults use, what they want from this technology, and the skills people have. Therefore, it is essential for older adults to co-produce this technology, and the tools to help develop these digital skills.

Research aim: To understand from a new user perspective what basic adjustments need to be made to existing affordable technology, to support digital confidence and literacy among people aged 50 years-or-older; identify what technological innovations and prototype applications enable new users to confidently access digital platforms; and develop a prototype application based on feedback from the participants.

Research Summary: This project took a co-creation and participatory design approach to explore the challenges experienced by older people across regions of Wales and the North East of England. Virtual workshops were held over Zoom, with participants recruited through Digital Voice for Communities in Newcastle and Digital Communities in Wales. The workshops also included the research team, as well as computer scientists and representatives from the charitable organisations. The first workshop identified participant needs and preferences with technology, and their desired outcomes. The second workshop provided demonstrations of existing software available, with discussions around their likes/dislikes. The computer scientists considered this feedback and created prototypes based on the participants’ preferences. The third workshop provided a demonstration of the prototypes and sought feedback from the participants.

Findings: This project is still ongoing, and findings will be updated soon.

The research team: The project, led by Dr Deborah Morgan (Swansea University), is a collaboration between academics at The Open University (Dr Hannah Marston) and Northumbria University (Dr Gemma Wilson-Menzfeld and Mrs Jessica Gates). This project also involved collaboration with computer scientists at Swansea University and members of charitable organisations Digital Voice for Communities in North East England and Digital Communities Wales. 

Funding details: This study ran from January 2021 to July 2021 and was funded by the Cherish Digital Economy Research Centre at Swansea University.


Photo credit: From the Centre for Ageing Better photo bank, a free age-positive image library launched to tackle negative stereotypes of later life.

Last modified: Wed, 08 Dec 2021 15:08:35 GMT