Hana Philips

Universal Design and Adaptive Technology, a discussion on the barriers to using adaptive technology and possible future design solutions from an Occupational Therapy Perspective

Presenter: Hana Philips, Occupational Therapist, Swinburne University

Flash Talk Session

With the rise of an ageing population and chronic disease, current health care systems are becoming increasingly strained to meet changing demands globally. From the 1960’s universal design became strongly associated with architectural change and reducing barriers for individuals with physical disabilities to accessing the community (Lieven De Couvreur & Goossens, 2011). Currently, universal design is still associated with creating a product, service or environment that is accessible to the widest population possible. Unfortunately, this does not eventuate in all designs being successful with adaptive technology being disused and abandoned due to lack of specificity to the user, as noted in several studies (LBJ De Couvreur, 2016; Federici, Meloni, & Borsci, 2016). With this it was also noted the impact of Occupational Therapy in the provision of adaptive aids (Federici et al., 2016). This paper has conducted a literature review using a synthesis matrix to identify and collate recurring themes over disparate articles to understand opportunities and barriers to universal design and design methodologies in adaptive technology both past and present. This highlighted the parallels of current paradigms of thought for both health and design, with concurrent ideas in both Person Centred Care models (prevalent model in healthcare) and user centred design, as well as the impact of universal design in the past and that the needs of the population are changing (LBJ De Couvreur, 2016; Docherty, 2017).  Nonetheless, there were significant barriers identified, with issues such as language and interdisciplinary communication being the foremost obstructions to true interdisciplinary collaboration (Amiri, Wagenfeld, & Reynolds, 2017). The initial research has highlighted the need for ongoing study, however is suggestive that there may be mutual benefit in interprofessional collaboration within the healthcare setting.