Co-designing a hearing loss screening app with individuals with dementia

Authors: Madison Tutton1, Tim Green1, Tim Walton1

1Eargym

Hearing loss and dementia are prevalent age-related conditions that frequently co-exist. Aside from tablet screeners that require specialist equipment, there is a lack of suitable screeners validated for individuals with dementia. Here, we aim to develop a hearing screening tool that can be independently used by individuals with dementia, designed to identify signs of hearing loss and facilitate diagnostic investigations.
We used the PERsona-CEntred Participatory Technology (PERCEPT) approach to co-design a hearing screening tool with individuals with dementia. This method involved the co-creation of personas that were grounded in the lived experiences of the participants. Throughout the project, we utilised these personas in a series of in-person workshops with dementia support groups that encompassed product development’s exploration, design and evaluation stages. We augmented these co-design workshops with online focus groups and interviews with other end-users including carers and healthcare professionals. We present a set of personas co-created with individuals with dementia, which were instrumental in co-designing a prototype application for a digits-in-noise hearing assessment. The primary results presented in this paper relate to the key design insights gathered from the co-design process and subsequent usability evaluation. Insights gained through the personas indicated a preference for a tablet-based application, either for independent or assisted use, and the importance of providing hearing health results in a print-friendly, accessible format. The PERCEPT approach, which is founded on the use of created personas, significantly enhanced our engagement with individuals living with dementia during the co-design of the hearing screening application. This research highlights the importance of developing dementia-friendly audiological tools and demonstrates the practical benefits of personas in creating these solutions.