There Is No Such Thing As "the Elderly": Results and Reflections of Three Co-Design Research Projects with Elderly Participants from a Socio-Technical Point of View.

Monday, 16 July 2018: 18:00
Oral Presentation
Marén SCHORCH, University of Siegen, Germany
Claudia MUELLER, University of Siegen, Germany
In our contribution, we present and reflect findings from our long-term experiences in co-designing ICT and sensor technology for and with elderly people. We will particularly refer to three projects (“City Quarter”, “TOPIC” and “Cognitive Village”) that were realized in the context of designing supportive technologies for the well-being and staying independent as long as possible (ageing at home), carried out from our research team of socio-informatics at the University of Siegen (Germany) during the last five years. Our research approach is based on qualitative methods of sociology (mainly ethnography, participant observation, interviews, photos etc.) as well as Participatory design (e. g. Crabtree 1998). An important aspect of all the projects is our long-term engagement with the elderly participants, our support for the appropriation of the technologies and the implementation in the everyday life and homes of the participants. In our reflections, we would like to emphasize issues around the underlying images of age/ageing that have impacts on the visioning, design, implementation and appropriation of technologies in IT design projects, for instance the multi-facetted and dynamic aspects of ageing (age as a “transition” stage) and the discrepancies between imposed images of ageing (for instance by institutions, organizations, but also funding agencies etc.) versus the self-images of elderly people. This is especially important due to the high diversity of elderly people in respect to their life styles, experiences, socio-economic and educational backgrounds and interests in engaging with new technologies that is often overlooked. Thus, we aim to foster visibility and thus critical reflection and deconstruction of images of ageing which explicitly and implicitly contour IT design projects embedded in societal discourses on the micro, meso- and macro level.