Improving the Language of Designing for Ageing

Elena Comincioli*, Alice Chirico, Masood Masoodian

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)
    38 Downloads (Pure)


    In response to an increasingly ageing world population, the World Health Organization has recently proposed a new framework – called Healthy Ageing – to better cater to older adults’ life needs and desires. This framework calls for transdisciplinary approaches to answer the challenges and opportunities posed by an ageing society. Following this framework, it is argued that the first step to accomplishing the goals of Healthy Ageing is to address the existing biases and stereotypes in the language used for addressing ageing issues. In this paper, we propose a series of linguistic guidelines that can help improve the lexicon used to talk about ageing in design research and practice, by countering many subconscious ageist biases and stereotypes. Ageism, especially in its implicit form, is a pervasive negative force that can affect not only design practitioners and researchers but also older adults, who often use ageist language to describe themselves. The proposed guidelines would also help the “false friends” of ageing people, who may be using apparently innocuous words, terminology, and remarks to refer to ageing, without perhaps realising the underlying ageist attitudes and stereotypes hidden in their used language. Overall, we aim to foster a change in design researchers’ and practitioners’ perspective on ageing, by paving the way for a transdisciplinary discourse on designing for ageing, which could then be further expanded and explored to eliminate ageism in design.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationHuman-Computer Interaction – INTERACT 2021 - 18th IFIP TC 13 International Conference, Proceedings
    EditorsCarmelo Ardito, Rosa Lanzilotti, Alessio Malizia, Helen Petrie, Antonio Piccinno, Giuseppe Desolda, Kori Inkpen
    Number of pages21
    Publication statusPublished - 26 Aug 2021
    MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
    EventInternational Conference on Human-Computer Interaction - Bari, Italy
    Duration: 30 Aug 20213 Sep 2021

    Publication series

    NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
    Volume12933 LNCS
    ISSN (Print)0302-9743
    ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


    ConferenceInternational Conference on Human-Computer Interaction
    Abbreviated titleINTERACT
    Internet address


    • Ageing population
    • Ageism
    • Design for ageing
    • Healthy ageing


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