Experience + Experience + Experience = Empathy

Deana McDonagh, Andree Woodcock, Sana Iqbal

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Developing empathy for the people we design for is a prerequisite to more effective design outcomes. Intellectually we can all appreciate aging and disability. Only when we ‘experience the experience of another person’s experience’ can we begin to appreciate the very lived experience we are trying to enhance. Using low level simulations and the GERT (gerontology) aging suit, students from the UK completed activities of daily living while experiencing reduced mobility, impaired hearing and vision, tinnitus, reduced grip and hand dexterity.
While a relatively short immersion into disability and aging could be considered superficial, the authors believe that low level experiential simulations, together with the GERT suit could be valuable in training Industrial Design students and lead to more age sensitive, inclusive design.
This paper shares findings from a 3-day design intervention, in which five Masters level students worked on a brief to develop products which would aid companionship in mobile elders.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventDesign for health - Sheffield Hallam university, Sheffield, United Kingdom
Duration: 4 Sep 20186 Sep 2018


ConferenceDesign for health
Abbreviated titleD4H
CountryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • empathy
  • aging
  • gerontology
  • disability
  • industrial design

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