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Inclusive user experiences for older web users


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Talk given at a11yLDN Meetup, 1st December 2011, at City University, London. Overview of the relationship of web accessibility and inclusive user experiences for older web users.

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Inclusive user experiences for older web users

  1. 1. Inclusive user experiences for older web users David Sloan @sloandr 1 st December 2011 a11yLDN Meetup, City University, London
  2. 2. Older Web Users and Inclusive Web Design: it’s important! <ul><li>Population increase in UK – projections for mid 2008-2033 </li></ul><ul><li>Source: Office of National Statistics </li></ul>
  3. 3. What do we think we know? <ul><li>WAI-AGE project - applying “WAI accessibility” to older people </li></ul><ul><li>Commercial research from Nielsen Norman, WebCredible </li></ul><ul><li>Gerontechnology – academic research (psychology, medicine, computing science) </li></ul><ul><li>… lots of guidelines </li></ul>
  4. 4. Understanding age-related accessibility issues <ul><li>Chronological age is not a reliable indicator of capability or performance. Also consider: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(Cap)ability </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Aptitude (technology experience) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Attitude (anxiety, perserverence) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Chisnell and Redish (2004) Designing Web sites for Older Adults: Expert review of Usability for Older adults at 50 web sites. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Understanding age-related accessibility issues <ul><li>Capability issues are highly individual , in terms of: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The accessibility issue(s) a person may have </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The way in which these issues were acquired </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The rate that these issues change in severity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The impact of these issues individually and in combination </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Age-related capability change <ul><li>Sensory: Vision, Hearing </li></ul><ul><li>Motor: Dexterity </li></ul><ul><li>Cognitive </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fluid intelligence (relating to processing and reasoning, aptitude for learning, working memory, visual attention) </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Understanding age-related accessibility issues <ul><li>Some capabilities are less prone to decline over time: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Crystallised intelligence – knowledge acquired through learning and life experience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>May help explain older people’s relatively high success levels in ill-defined search tasks </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Social factors, ageing and inclusive UX
  9. 9. Social factors, ageing and inclusive UX <ul><li>Non-engagement vs disengagement </li></ul><ul><li>Awareness of accessibility needs and acceptability of solutions </li></ul><ul><li>Cognitive challenges of dealing with change (individual; or relating to OS, device, interface) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The suitability of the “simplified” computer or browser </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Changing social status and access to help </li></ul>
  10. 10. Ways forward: for authors and developers <ul><li>Don’t ignore WCAG; look at WAI-AGE’s age-related success criteria </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on reducing cognitive load </li></ul><ul><li>Develop empathy for the needs and wants of older people – involve older people throughout user experience design </li></ul><ul><li>Be sensitive to perceptions and awareness of “accessibility” </li></ul>
  11. 11. Ways forward: Designing to support changing access needs <ul><li>Simplifying the browsing experience </li></ul><ul><ul><li>HTML 5 Form elements; AJAX for usability </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Desktop and mobile apps – removing the browser UI but preserving basic interaction conventions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Accommodating age-related capability change </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Normalising accessibility features (c/f TV volume; control, iPad zoom) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Detection and gradual adaptation – e.g. our work with the SUS-IT project </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Ways forward: Involving older people more effectively in web design <ul><li>Taking advantage of the crystallised knowledge of older web users </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Involving older people in participatory design </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>User interface paradigms and metaphors that are recognisable and appropriate </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Understanding more about how older people acquire and apply skills to use the Web </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ethnography of older people as Web learners and users </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Summary <ul><li>Older web users are not a homogeneous group </li></ul><ul><li>Older web users may have accessibility needs – but may not know it or have the appropriate technology; or may resist certain “solutions” </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on reducing cognitive demand on browsing </li></ul><ul><li>This challenge won’t go away unless we all work to evangelise and practice UCD with older people (…our future selves) </li></ul>
  14. 14. Acknowledgments <ul><li>Paula Forbes and Sergio Sayago (photos; insight from ethnography with older web users) </li></ul><ul><li>Prof Leela Damodaran and Wendy Olphert (SUS_IT project ) </li></ul>
  15. 15. THANKYOU! <ul><li>email: [email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>twitter: @sloandr </li></ul><ul><li>blogs: --- </li></ul><ul><li>work: --- </li></ul>