Mobile, connected and included: the role of information and communication technology in supporting mobility and independence in later life.
University of Southampton, Social Sciences,
Mobility in later life can take various forms, as a result of changes in personal circumstances, such as physical impairments and driving cessation. Therefore, understanding the concept of mobility in later life is complex and challenging. Through an interdisciplinary qualitative approach, this thesis examines the role of information and communication technology in supporting mobility and independence in later life. The research highlights a gap in the theoretical understanding of the concept of mobility, and uses insights from the three thematic areas of transportation, technology and older people, as well as key concepts such as social inclusion and independence, in order to develop a new conceptual framework to study mobility in later life. Research that brings these three areas of transportation, technology and older people together, is largely absent from the study of mobility. The research methodology included two phases of data collection. Firstly, the Mobilisation and Accessibility Planning for PEople with Disabilities (MAPPED) project, which focused on the field trials of tailored handheld navigational devices by older people; and secondly, the Getting Out and About project, which involved older people participating in in-depth semi-structured interviews with hypothetical vignettes. The results highlight the importance of mobility in maintaining independence in later life, whilst recognising the heterogeneity of older people by demonstrating a variety of attitudes, experiences and perceptions towards travel behaviour and information and communication technology in later life. The thesis argues that through the facilitation of virtual mobility, such technologies can offer older people an important alternative to physical mobility, which can be further explored in the future design and implementation of policies aimed at supporting older people and improving their well-being and social inclusion
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