Leela Damodaran, Loughborough University Wendy Olphert, Loughborough University



  • Nottingham Trent University

  • University of Surrey

  • University of Dundee

  • Middlesex University

  • Anglia Ruskin University

  • University of Lincoln


Leela Damodaran


To address the complex sociotechnical research questions successfully requires knowledge and expertise from multiple disciplines and perspectives, in addition to that of older people.

Accordingly, the Sus-IT CRP enables the expertise of academic researchers across a range of disciplines (participatory and user-centred design, psychology, gerontology, sociology, computer and information science, human-computer interaction, interactive theatre and learning technologies) to combine with that of practitioners, product developers, local government, assistive technology providers and disability organisations.

Aims and objectives

The project aimed to generate new knowledge and understanding of the dynamics of ageing in relation to the dynamics of ICT use and development.

Through informing and influencing policy, practice, design and research, this knowledge could in turn enable older people to access, creatively shape, use and adapt ICTs to sustain and enrich their autonomy, independence and quality of life.

Specific objectives were

  • to strengthen capacity for effective participation of older people in ICT policy, research and design

  • to investigate the potential of, and barriers to, sustained use of digital technologies by older people, and potential solutions to barriers

  • to generate outputs which will influence policy, research and design, in ICT for older people


In order to tackle the issues of diversity and dynamics, the research used both qualitative and quantitative methods. This allowed researchers to analyse trends and draw conclusions, while the participating older people could have their individual perspectives recognised and respected.

The methodology included

  • collection and analysis of relevant quantitative and qualitative data to understand ways in which older people can use and adapt technology to meet their continually changing needs

  • innovation in methods for building confidence and capacity of older people to engage meaningfully in, and bring their diverse perspectives to, research into ageing, ICT use and sustained quality of life, and to develop and articulate their understanding of their own needs in relation to technology

  • ethical and sensitive engagement with older people, recognising and responding to their motivations and expectations in participating

  • innovative design approaches

  • sustainability - building capacity for multidisciplinary and participatory research, and allowing for enhancement and development of the networks of connected and engaged older people during and beyond the project

Policy implications

  • Understanding of how to promote older people’s awareness of sources of help, support and information relating to ICTs.

  • Recommendations for helping older people to engage confidently with ICTs and sustain their usage.

  • Recommendations for engaging older people in collaborative research.

  • Strategies for engaging older people in shaping design and design decisions relating to ICT products, systems and services.

  • Design recommendations for adaptive interfaces.

  • Knowledge and information to enable our commercial (non-academic) partners and other companies to make design decisions tailored to the needs and characteristics of older people.

  • Development of innovative products (eg ICT products targeted specifically at older people)