User Centred Design for Assitive Technology, can it be done?

Hi all,

First apologies if this is not the right place. I am a practising Occupational Therapist and PhD researcher in Design. I am trying to see if we can use User-Centred Design, Design Thinking and Human-Centred Design can assist in improving assistive technologies.

To do this, we need the assistance of the design community (and especially the UX community) and your feedback; if you have 10-15 minutes in your busy day, please let me know or email me at

The data collected here will go towards understanding current issues facing the design industry and how we can work together to improve this issue. The implication may mean improvements in the design and service design around assistive technologies. If you are still reading, there is a little more information about the topic below!

The World Health Organisation published a statement in late 2020 that over 1 billion people currently live with disabilities. With current issues such as ageing populations, increasing non-communicable disease and long COVID, this is predicted to reach 2 billion by 2030. The World Health Organisation notes that many individuals in this population use assistive technologies to assist in completing meaningful activities of daily living. With this, as of 2018, an estimated 1 in 10 people used assistive technologies to assist them in completing an everyday activity independently.

However, there is a known issue within healthcare that Assistive Technology is abandoned up to 70% or the time in the first year of using it. This represents a massive issue for people living with disabilities and their ability to complete meaningful tasks throughout the day. Anecdotally, a lot of the issues appear to be with the design of assistive technologies meeting the needs of this user group. We want to explore the importance of good design in encouraging assistive technology use so that the design process and fabrication become truly user-centred. To do this, we are completing research to understand the current issues in integrating design paradigms into the area of assistive technology. This is being done by speaking to the users, the designers and allied health professionals to understand both current issues and how to best move forward to promote true interdisciplinary practice.

Thank you for your time, if you have any questions or queries, please do not hesitate to contact the research team at

I am not sure what it is you need from the design community but I am willing to take a look. I am developing our understanding of marginalised users where I work and this includes a lot more than disabilities.

I do think there is an issue with designers, developers being able to test content on assistive devices and also that a lot of disabled people don’t use assistive devices because they don’t think of themselves as disabed and maybe don’t even realise they are there.