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TacMap

TacMap

This project concerns the development of an iconic tactile language for use in the production of tactile maps.

Project team:
Paul Chamberlain
Patricia Dieng

Signs and symbols can generally be described as pictographs, literal pictorial representations of the real world, and ideographs that are abstracted ideas of that world. While simple pictographs can relate to particular objects, the implications for meaning can become extremely complex when they become abstracted as ideographs or combined. Chamberlain, with RA Patricia Dieng, investigated whether pictographs, ideographs or abstract symbols used in tactile maps are more appropriate for blind people to conceptualise spatial and environmental concepts and relationships.

The study involved a series of user-workshops with Sheffield Royal Institute of the Blind. Important was how blind users interpreted the tactile qualities of the maps and how partially sighted people interpreted the visual qualities of the map. The aim was to create a communicative link between for people with vision and without vision.

The work has led to a spin out company TacMap which provide a design service utilising findings from the research and create tactile maps for a range of businesses and public services that include South Yorkshire Transport Executive and The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park by the London legacy Corporation.

The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) is placing demands of the public sector and industry to make buildings and facilities accessible, usable and safe for disabled people, and there is clearly a gap in a provision for the visually impaired. The research has involved the UK Universities Safety and Health Association (USHA) and considered how tactile symbols could support the Personal Escape and Evacuation Programme (PEEP).


‘This is wonderful, this illustrates so many things; plans are really useful, and it is great to be able to go in a room like for example here the toilets and to know where the basins, the WC and the hand dryers are’

engagingaging

engagingaging was a transnational programme of research that sought to understand the needs, preferences and aspirations of older people in order to inform the design of products and systems to support independence and wellbeing in later life.

Funded by : 
British Council

Partners:
Chang Gung University, Taiwan.
University of the third Age

Project team:
Paul Chamberlain – Team lead
Claire Craig

engagingaging was a transnational programme of research that sought to understand the needs, preferences and aspirations of older people in order to inform the design of products and systems to support independence and wellbeing in later life.

‘Engagingaging was a fresh approach and broke the rules on what we normally expect from an exhibition. It dealt with some difficult and controversial issues in a friendly and accessible way’
Curator museum of Contemporary Art , Taipei, Taiwan”.

The concept of ‘The Exhibition’ is embedded within the culture of Art & Design and has a long history as a form of ‘gathering’ to prompt discourse. This research explores the role of the exhibition as a ‘theatre for conversation’ and its role and format as a research tool as well as a means of dissemination.

The research is based on the principle of engaging users through a programme of workshops, integrated with the exhibition, to illicit a better understanding of user-needs, which in turn inform design activity. The enquiry was predicated on the premise that older people offer a valued resource and asset to families, communities and society.
The starting point of the research, funded by the British Council, was a comparison of the experiences of older people living in the United Kingdom and Taiwan.

Within the exhibition a collection of furniture entitled ‘Stigmas’ embodied issues relating to the physical, cognitive and attitudinal challenges older people face in everyday life. The critical artefacts did not present solutions but posed a series of considered questions that illuminated the landscape of old age.

The engagingaging series of exhibitions has been hosted at a number of venues including: the Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei; Building Centre, London; the Taipei Cultural Centre; and the SIA gallery, Sheffield, and underpins a collaborative project with Chang Gung University and Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taiwan (British Council PMI CONNECT funded).

Future Bathroom

This project aimed to improve the quality and design of bathroom furniture for older people with the goal of producing products which all bathroom users find acceptable as well as meeting the specific needs of older and disabled people.

Funded by: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Ideal Standard

Partners: British Council, Vitra and Istanbul Technical University

Project team: Paul Chamberlain, Heath Reed, Maria Burton and Andy Stanton

The need for user engagement in the design process is particularly acute when the target user group has specific requirements which may not be fully appreciated by designers. The focus of this research, designing to support older disabled living is one such problem. The specific domain of interest, that of the bathroom, provides a number of challenges to user-centred design methodology because of the highly personal, sensitive and intimate nature of the activities that take place there.

“I don’t wash my hair in the shower because when I close my eyes I feel unsafe. I wash it in the sink after my shower.”

Female, 70.

“I never thought I would have trouble getting out of the bath but I do.”

Male, 75.

“Things have changed since we moved here – as you get older, things change a lot.”

Female, 63, with arthritis.

The aim of this project was firstly, to develop a robust methodology for fostering co-design dialogue between designers, researchers and people (aged 50+) with chronic age related health conditions which lead to disability and frailty. Examples include arthritis, osteoporosis, stroke and macular degeneration.

Secondly, it aimed to develop a range of innovative and desirable bathroom concepts that are sensitive to the problems of living with disability, which do not stigmatize, are capable of manufacture and will demonstrate the principles we have developed.

The three-year project, funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, involved end users, predominantly older users, and Ideal Standard, one of the largest global manufacturers of bathroom products.

Creative approaches were adopted to prompt discussion on bathroom behaviour, often considered taboo, such as the recruitment of older ‘community lay researchers’ who visited older people in the community and the implementation of public field labs.

In addition, quantitative data was collected (via motion capture, high speed cameras and thin film force sensors) through observational studies undertaken in a simulated bathroom environment.

The research evolved to explore further the cultural behaviour of bathroom use through a further project ‘loo-lab’ which was funded by the British Council in collaboration with Istanbul Technical University, industry partner Vitra and older people living in Turkey. The project featured in the Foundation for Assistive Technology, Annual Parliamentary Report UK.

A bathroom design guide for users, ‘If only I knew then what I know now’ (endorsed by Age UK) was published from the findings.

The Lab4Living researchers on this project were Heath Reed, Maria Burton and Andy Stanton.

“If you are interested in designing your bathroom to better suit your needs as you grow older, then this will be a useful guide. We always welcome advice based on sound evidence produced by expert researchers, as we have in this leaflet.“

– Professor James Goodwin, Head of Research, Age UK, 2011.

Project Impacts

Included in NIHR Dissemination Centre Review

Future Bathroom is included in the recent NIHR Dissemination Centre Themed Review ‘Help at Home‘ (December 2018, doi: 10.3310/themedreview-03345)

Most Innovative Design

Outcomes of the project were awarded ‘Most Innovative Design’ in 2017 by the Over 50s Housing Association, UK.

Included in parliamentary reports

The Foundation for Assistive Technology (FAST) produce an annual parliamentary report about R&D in Assistive Technology (AT). Included in the 2009-10 report and 2011-12 report.

Work Exhibited

This work was included in the 2009 EPSRC Pioneers exhibition at Olympia, where it was praised for its innovative research methodology and its focus on the training of older people as community researchers. The Foundation for Assistive Technology (FAST) produce an annual parliamentary report about R&D in Assistive Technology (AT). Included in the 2009-10 report and 2011-12 report.

The Life Café

The Design to Care Programme seeks to rethink how palliative and end of life care can be provided equitably, efficiently and sustainably for future generations. The Life Café Kit is a result of the programme, and is designed to promote and support conversations about what individuals find meaningful in life and in care.

Funded by Marie Curie
Partnered with University of Cambridge

Team: Helen Fisher, Claire Craig, Paul Chamberlain

Drawing on long-established ethical principles, the UK General Medical Council articulates good end of life care as that which ‘helps patients with life-limiting conditions to live as well as possible until they die and to die with dignity’ (GMC 2009 p.3).

The last decade has witnessed a demographic change on unprecedented scale.

People are living longer and with more complex, long term conditions such as cancer and dementia. Our palliative and end of life care services will be required to meet the needs of our ageing population under increasing pressure.

The Life Café is one of the outputs of the Design to Care programme which seeks to rethink how palliative and end of life care can be provided equitably, efficiently and sustainably for future generations.

The community engagement aspect of the Design to Care programme focuses on understanding what is important to different individuals in life, in care, and towards end of life. A methodology has been developed by researchers at Sheffield Hallam University’s Lab4Living, to enable research to be gathered in an informal, comfortable manner within existing community groups and familiar environments. This has been named the Life Café.

“This has made an incredible difference to me today to share these things and listen to you all.”

Life Café Participant

“Good care is ‘talking, listening, communicating, trusting, consistency, choice and time.”

Life Café Participant 

Taking the method of ‘exhibition in a box’, a form of object elicitation developed by Chamberlain and Craig (2013) as the starting point, this study curated a series of creative activities, to scaffold thinking and to prompt conversation. The Life Café is comprised of a variety of critical artefacts, activities and resources, co-developed with community members, that have been used to gather stories, experiences and ideas to support the design phase of the project. 

Our iterative methodology of using resources and artefacts, analysing data, generating themes, then modifying the resources has been a form of behind-the-scenes co-design. Participants have shaped the contents of the Life Cafe and enabled others to talk about sensitive topics more easily, without really realizing. This iterative co-design process has occurred through every element, activity and resource included in the Life Café Kit, even the graphic design and the packaging design.

11 Life Cafés facilitated 141 participants 

In the first phase of the Design to Care Programme, 11 Life Cafés have been facilitated with a total of 141 participants (from groups including chaplains, faith groups, coffee morning socials and mixed community groups), using convenience sampling. 

The Life Café Kit

Life Cafés were continued to develop a kit for independent facilitation. The life café has since been independently facilitated within 2 community groups, a care home and a hospice. The feedback from this will be consolidated and incorporated into the final version of the Kit. We have increasing interest in the Life Café Kit, not only for community groups but for use in schools, carer groups, staff training etc. to open the conversation up and bring awareness to organisations.

The Life Café as a method of eliciting the experiences of individuals in the context of meaning and care has been very successful. Particularly notable was its ability to enable community groups through this process to identify strength and mobilise knowledge and action. This sits well in the context of building compassionate communities.

The Life Café has elicited insights into how individuals conceptualise and describe good care, and a recognition of the pressure points in relation to delivery. The research offers glimpses of what better care might and could look like in the future. Future research will continue to utilise this method with other groups (health and social care staff, trusts and CCGs, carer groups, community groups etc.) to continue to build understanding in order to inform the redesign of end of life care provision.

Resources

Related research on Sheffield Hallam University’s Research Archive