What is NICKEL?

NICKEL is a tool designed to assist novice designers and researchers in determining capability appropriate user centered needs elicitation methods for elderly and disabled participants.


Despite the increased recognition of the importance of designing for a wide audience, older and disabled adults are often left out in the design process beginning from the needs elicitation process. There are various reasons why designers/researchers do not include older and disabled adults in needs elicitation process including

  1. Limited established inclusive User Centered Needs Elicitation Methods (UCNEM) available.

  2. Lack of resources to conduct research.

  3. Designers design for themselves assuming all end users are similar to them. 

  4. Designers may lack the knowledge or experience to choose the right needs elicitation methodology for their project and participants . 

Older adults may have a varying and diverse set of human capabilities such as cognition, physical and perceptual abilities that are different from younger users. This may make it difficult for designer/researchers to determine a method that can be used this population. As a result, older adults have generally been excluded from the development process, particularly of assistive technologies, or are being consulted at the end of the design process . Despite the importance of human capabilities in the needs gathering process for older adults, the traditional requirements elicitation process only takes factors such as problem statement, project domain and final customers  into consideration when UCNEM are selected. The inclusion of human capability demands from the participants to accommodate them in the UCNEM is often overlooked.

To address this issue, NICKEL, was developed with the goal of providing a more inclusive and user-centered needs elicitation methods decision and selection process for designers based on the prospective participant’s cognitive, motor and perceptual abilities.

How it works?

Tool Workflow:

Based on the database and task flow, algorithms and formulas were created on how each task flow must work and created an excel based tool to make sure the work flow designed is as expected and satisfies user requirement. The google sheet with the formulas and the tool workflow can be found at The tool is being developed into a mobile application and the initial wireframe design can be found below.

User Responses:

Future and More:

NICKEL has secured funding for commercialization from Age-Well CRP Plus for commercialization of the tool. Work is being done to transform the tool into a web/mobile version and license it in SAAS model.

The full thesis and publications can be found at Google scholar and Researchgate


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