Bristol Usability Group

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Designing for old people with Andrew Arch, Web Accessibility and Ageing Specialist, W3C Web Accessibility Initiative

Event Details

Designing for old people with Andrew Arch, Web Accessibility and Ageing Specialist, W3C Web Accessibility Initiative

Time: September 22, 2009 from 6:30pm to 7:30pm
Location: Futurelab
Street: 1 Canons Road, Harbourside
City/Town: Bristol BS1 5UH
Website or Map: http://www.futurelab.org.uk/a…
Event Type: talk, discussion
Organized By: BUG
Latest Activity: Feb 12, 2013

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Event Description

This talk and discussion will look at changing abilities as we age, the relevance of WCAG2 and involving older people in making 'accessible' design.

Find out more about Andrew's work at: http://www.w3.org/WAI/WAI-AGE/.

See you there. (Please RSVP if you are coming!)

Comment Wall

Comment by Ben Hayes on July 28, 2009 at 13:33
I've often thought that designing was a young person's game, so it's good to see a talk dedicated to helping older people do design work.

[I am joking ;)]
Comment by James Carmichael on July 29, 2009 at 11:33
Alas I'll be away for this (doh!) but it sounds very interesting
Comment by Gareth Young on September 21, 2009 at 10:49
Hi, I'm interested in attending this event but just wondering if I'd be welcome! I'm a recent graduate and spent a year as a user experience consultant at Microsoft as part of my degree and am interested in working in UX/UI. Can I just turn up tomorrow at 1 Canons Road?

My website (in Silverlight (sorry :-/)) is http://www.garethyoung.co.nr/ if you want to know a bit more about me.
Comment by Dave Ellender on September 21, 2009 at 14:01
Gareth - sure just turn up - 1830
Comment by Jay Spanton on September 21, 2009 at 18:57
Hi Dave - Hope it goes well. Mangled my foot in 5-a-side, not driving/ walking for a bit. Jay
Comment by Dave Ellender on September 22, 2009 at 12:19
ouch put your feet up
Comment by Ben Hayes on September 22, 2009 at 19:58
Thanks for a good little discussion tonight. Pointed out some interesting aspects of how older people use the web.
Comment by Andrew Arch on September 23, 2009 at 8:19
A general presentation (that I drew on for last night) is available from http://www.w3.org/WAI/presentations/ageing/ and further information, including the literature review and the business case I referenced, are available from http://www.w3.org/WAI/WAI-AGE/.
Comment by Andrew Arch on September 23, 2009 at 8:49
PS - anyone interested in following the project and/or contributing to it's outputs is invited to join the WAI-AGE mailing list (http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-wai-age/) or participate in the task force (http://www.w3.org/WAI/EO/2008/wai-age-tf.html)
Comment by Dave Ellender on September 24, 2009 at 12:22
Thanks Andrew for a very stimulating evening.

The thing that really struck a chord with me in the discussions we all had is that older people's impairments a) change over time and b) are often denied by the person who is experiencing them.

So we need to support these changing needs by providing different interaction flows or interface styles? Sure - but even that is not enough. Isn't the real challenge to deliver 'accessibility' persuasively?

All too frequently, two versions of the same site, application or game get made: typically it is presented as an explicit choice between a 'rich media experience' over here and and accessible version over there. There is something deeply wrong about this. (Remember Amazon's short-lived separate 'accessible' shopping site?)

In his talk, Andrew mentioned some recent research in Spain that showed old people are like many other people with impairments: they didn't want to learn to use 'accessible options' and preferred to use standard or normal technologies (e.g. a mouse) - even if they require more effort (e.g. among people with physical tremors). There is tons of anecdotal evidence of this which is quite easy to find.

Is this because computing is being experienced as a social practice and that conformance with 'what everyone else uses' is so important that the extra effort it takes to struggle along with 'what everyone else uses' is worth it?

Might trying to use 'what everyone else uses' provide a safety net when an error inevitably goes wrong?

Might the notion of 'what everyone else uses' become less stereotypical and more nuanced among older people as they socialise with each other and realise there are more appropriate ways of using computers?

After all, the notion of 'what everyone else uses' is doomed anyway... as the concept fragments into a me-centred reality of massively diverse devices, customised browsers and dynamically personalised e-commerce experiences?

Might this mean that designing for older people, like designing for any other people with impairments or indeed just people in general, means providing custom features that may be more appropriate and providing non-threatening choices for people to try them out to see if they like them?

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