This study introduces a phenomenological approach to the design of enabling technologies for older adults focusing on capabilities rather than disabilities. The purpose of this paper is to use embodied experiences to structure an alternative understanding of the human–technology relationship and demonstrates the significance and implications of this approach.Design/methodology/approachIn total, 31 older citizens (M=80.5 years, SD=5.97 years) were engaged in a participatory design process revolving around the embodied experiences of the participants. The aim was to design new wireless chargers for their existing enabling technologies. The paper presents design results and statistical analyses of performance evaluations.FindingsThe co-designed alternatives were compared to the current alternative. The statistical analyses revealed an average increase in performance of 45.35 percent across all participants when using designs anchored in embodied experiences. The significance of these results suggests that a shift from disabilities to capabilities provides new opportunities to understand and facilitate interaction between older adults and technology.Research limitations/implicationsThe study follows the theoretical argument into real-use scenarios involving co-designed artifacts to demonstrate how the suggested approach can be a viable alternative strategy to how we facilitate the design of enabling technologies for older adults.Originality/valueThe suggested design approach contributes to the ongoing development of enabling technologies for older adults by introducing a respectful and inclusive alternative strategy.
Journal of Enabling Technologies – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 24, 2019
Keywords: Capabilities; Phenomenology; Older adults; Participatory design; Embodied experiences; Enabling interaction