Using Photo Diaries to Elicit User Requirements from Older Adults: A Case Study on Mobility Barriers

  • David SwallowEmail author
  • Helen Petrie
  • Christopher Power
  • Alistair D. N. Edwards
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9296)


Older adults encounter numerous barriers to mobility, many of which are in the built environment. Technological solutions may enable them to mitigate these barriers and promote physical activity. To design appropriate technological solutions, it is crucial to understand the specific barriers to mobility older adults face from their perspectives. Photo diary studies allow older adults to autonomously document their experiences to support generation of user needs and requirements. We investigate the methodological appropriateness of photo diaries for exploring experiences of older adults and eliciting their requirements for new technologies. A photo diary study was conducted with 26 older adults, who were given disposable cameras to document things that affect their mobility. As well as presenting a selection of the mobility barriers identified in this study, the paper outlines a number of methodological issues relating to the use of photo diaries for eliciting the needs and requirements of older adults.


Photo diaries User study Participatory design Older adults Mobility barriers Built environment 



This research was conducted as part of the Co-Motion project [EP/K03748X/1], a Design for Well-Being: Ageing and Mobility in the Built Environment Initiative funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the Economic and Social Research Council, and the Arts & Humanities Research Council. We are grateful to the project partners for their hard work and support. We also thank all the participants in the study for their time and effort.


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Copyright information

© IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Swallow
    • 1
    Email author
  • Helen Petrie
    • 1
  • Christopher Power
    • 1
  • Alistair D. N. Edwards
    • 1
  1. 1.Human Computer Interaction Research Group, Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of YorkYorkUK

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