Case Study

Case study is a research method involving in-depth and detailed examination of a subject of study (the case), within related contextual conditions or environments. (Cohen et al 2007: 34)

Case studies are suited to Assistive Technology Industrial Design (AT_ID) because they provide an information rich resource about a specific case subject (or lens) through which evidence is provided. The case may be focused on a specific activity (daily living task or way of designing), product (wheelchair, lifting hoist or cutlery) or market (people living with a specific condition). The structure of a case study is often considered as three different types:

  1. Key cases
  2. Outlier case
  3. Local Knowledge

The multiple methods of data collection and presentation provide some cross-referencing or triangulation of evidence. A mixed methods approach is suited for this application, where both qualitative research methods (individual’s opinions) and quantitative research methods (time to perform a task) may be applied. The combination of methods to be applied is dependent on the research question to be answered. The research question provides the lens for the review or study of the design activity.

Due to the fragmented AT market, it is difficult to apply generic market knowledge from what may be considered a niche market. Observation or discussion about the case may suggest or infer a more generic outcome. A case study from the same niche market may be directly relevant to a new product development.

Useful links

Cohen, L., Manion, L., Morrison, K., 2007. Research methods in Education (6th ed), Routledge, Abingdon.

Creswell, J. and Plano Clarke, V., 2007. Designing and conducting mixed methods research, Sage, Thousand Oaks.

Design Council, 2015, (Online) Buddi, Case study. Available at: (, Accessed [22/09/2015]