Jutta Trevarinus: “The Power of Aging & the Art of Delegating”

Jutta Trevarinus is the Director of the Inclusive Research Design Centre in Toronto. She spoke at the workshop I attended at Mobile HCI 2014. It was a privilege to spend the day with her and the other participants at the workshop, all of learning from her massive body of experience in creating access to technology.

Below are some personal learning points from her talk.

1. While there are losses of aging, there are also some gains. Jutta began her talk by asking us to name the losses (easy) and then to name the gains (insightful). This simple exercise led to insight #1: The Silver Wave, while representing a wave of people with age-related difficulties, also represents an unprecedented high in populations with higher emotional intelligence, human judgement, experience and wisdom. This led to this quote: “Now is the time to work on the human spirit.” (Unfortunately, I missed the source of the quote, so if anyone can inform me where it came from, I will be happy to edit).

2. Jutta went on to discuss and showcase her work with IDRC. There’s too much for me to summarize here, so I encourage anyone interested in Inclusive Design to view the material over at the IDRC site.

3. In preparation for this talk, Jutta spoke with a group of seniors at a care centre in downtown Toronto. They gave her the following valuable advice:

  • A. Do NOT: infantilize, patronize, sentimentalize and dumb down technology. By ‘sentimentalize’ they mean not to make old age sound wonderful because ‘old age is crappy.
  • B. There is no ‘Typical’ older adult – the only guarantee is change and diversity
  • C. Strive for invisibility
    • seniors are not impressed by transient trends
    • avoid flashiness
    • avoid jargon
    • an interface is ideal when it’s an interface that really matters
  • D. Make it easier to:
    • see, find and hear
    • choose and control – feedback is critical and be aware of repeat delay.
    • manipulate – holders, grips and buttons help, consider wearables and fasteners
    • remember – use consistent language and conventions, make it easy to remember
  • E. Jutta prompted the seniors at the care center to tell her their ideal app. As you read the list, notice that nothing is different from what anyone wants, except for the ‘dying’ item.

A Senior App Wish List: “Please help me to…”

  • manage my health
    • health records, encourage fitness, document and manage medications
  • manage my schedule
    • a social secretary to deal with meeting new people and remembering faces, reminder systems, managing cancellations
  • manage my finances
    • customizing to my accounts
    • bills
    • investments
    • visualization tools
  • manage my identity/security and privacy
    • who has my information, for what purpose?
    • password management
    • fraud risk warning
  • help build community
    • social network navigator
    • invitations
  • manage my dying
    • document wishes
    • plan funeral/last rites etc
  • enrich my life
    • creative life (arts, entertainment etc)

I found this wish list to be a good summary of wishes I have encountered across all the research and in my work with older adults, and of course as a springboard for design research areas.  I hope you find it useful too!


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