Developing empathy for older users in design students

Andree Woodcock, Deana McDonagh, Jane Osmond

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Empathy has been recognised as a key skill by practicing designers. With rapid changes to inclusivity and accessibility in the transport sector, student designers need to appreciate and understand the way in which people engage and interact with transport. They need to not only develop an understanding of older and vulnerable users, how they experience products, vehicles, services and systems but also have the confidence to try out new ways of finding information and gaining ‘authentic experiences’. Although empathic design is encouraged, there is often little opportunity for this to occur in an already full traditional educational curriculum. This paper reports a short intervention using readily available materials to create low fidelity experience simulations designed to increase the empathic horizon of transport design students. It concludes with a set of guidelines on how to create high quality learning experiences for students that will enable enhanced empathic design outcomes as they embark upon design careers.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 19th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education
Subtitle of host publicationBuilding Community: Design Education for a Sustainable Future, E and PDE 2017
EditorsArild Berg, Erik Bohemia , Lyndon Buck
PublisherInstitution of Engineering Designers, The Design Society
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9781904670841
ISBN (Print)9781904670841
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017
EventE&PDE'17 19th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education: Building Community:Design Education for a Sustainable Future - Oslo & Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, Oslo, Norway
Duration: 7 Sept 20178 Sept 2017
Conference number: 19


ConferenceE&PDE'17 19th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education
Abbreviated titleE&PDE17
Internet address


  • Design research
  • Elders
  • Empathic design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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