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In the special Spring 2015 Issue of INNOVATION dedicated to the human hand, Design Researchers Eunji Park and Stephanie Morgan share Karten Design’s learnings from nearly a decade of designing hearing aids.

When Karten Design first started working on hearing aids, the designers thought their primary area of focus would be the human ear, Stephanie and Eunji explain. However, after spending time with 60-to-85-year-old users and delving into the complexities of their experiences, K:D’s designers soon realized that it wasn’t just about designing for ears—it was about designing for aging hands and minds.

“Designing for aging hands means designing for people who are experiencing an overall physical decline—whose bones, muscles and joints are becoming weaker,” they state. The hands experience a reduction in nerve endings, which makes it more difficult for users to sense pressure, temperature and pain.

Eunji and Stephanie’s design research also unearthed that there is an overwhelming amount of stigma attached to hearing loss and aging. “Most hearing aid users acknowledge that they do not want to publicly exhibit their use of hearing aids,” they note. Some users reported visiting a restroom to adjust the sound on their hearing aids just to avoid embarrassment.

Through examining the physical, social, psychological, and emotional components of using a hearing aid, Karten Design was able to use information like this to inform their design—creating a better overall user experience.

Learn more about Eunji and Stephanie’s design research and how it translated into user-centric hearing aid design by reading the full article here.

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