Assistive technology (AT) is defined in this paper as ‘any device or system that allows an individual to perform a task that they would otherwise be unable to do, or increases the ease and safety with which the task can be performed’ (Cowan and Turner-Smith 1999). Its importance in contributing to older people's independence and autonomy is increasingly recognised, but there has been little research into the viability of extensive installations of AT. This paper focuses on the acceptability of AT to older people, and reports one component of a multi-disciplinary research project that examined the feasibility, acceptability, costs and outcomes of introducing AT into their homes. Sixty-seven people aged 70 or more years were interviewed in-depth during 2001 to find out about their use and experience of a wide range of assistive technologies. The findings suggest a complex model of acceptability, in which a ‘felt need’ for assistance combines with ‘product quality’. The paper concludes by considering the tensions that may arise in the delivery of acceptable assistive technology.
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