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This document provides a review and analysis of guidelines and articles relating to the needs of older people with Web accessibility needs due to ageing, and compares these with the needs of people with disabilities as already addressed in WAI guidelines. This document is intended to provide an overview of currently available literature about the needs of older adults with functional impairments accessing the web. The World Wide Web (Web) was invented in 1989 and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) was established in 1994 to lead the World Wide Web to its full potential. Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the Web and Director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), is regularly cited for saying “The power of the Web is in its universality. Many countries in Europe and elsewhere have legislation in place to reduce discrimination against people with disabilities, both young and old, along with related policies or guidelines applying to online services [Policies].
This issue is compounding because the world’s population is living longer with a disproportionate number of people soon to be elderly as compared with any other period in human history. This demographic shift is also impacting the workforce and the EC expects employment rates for older workers to “increase massively from 40% in 2004 for the EU-25 to 47% by 2010 and 59% in 2025” that will “need to be supported by ensuring lifelong access to suitable training” [EC 2007b]. There has been extensive development and adoption of the WAI guidelines for Web accessibility for people with disabilities. This review examines the literature relating to the use of the Web by older people to primarily look for intersections and differences between the WAI guidelines and recommendations for web design and development issues that will improve the accessibility and usability for older people.
Goldman Sachs [Goldman Sachs 2005], along with many others, have defined 60 as the new 55 in terms of retirement from full-time work as life expectancy, health, and economic expectations increase.
In the WHO document ‘Definition of an older or elderly person ’ [WHO a] it is suggested that “Most developed world countries have accepted the chronological age of 65 years as a definition of 'elderly' or older person”, but goes on to say “The UN has not adopted a standard criterion, but generally use 60+ years to refer to the older population” (e.g. The American Association of Retired Persons' (AARP) 2004 study found that previous studies (undertaken during 2000 - 2004) of the elderly and their use of the ICT and the Web used a variety of definitions, from 50+ years through to 65+ years [Redish & Chisnell 2004].
The AARP itself considers ‘older adults’ to be those over 50 years, while many western countries (including the USA) consider the retirement age to be 65 years.
However, in addition to chronological age defining ‘elderly’, we need to account for the diversity in ability resulting from the development of functional limitations associated with ageing, and also the diversity of attitude and aptitude, when we are discussing the use of technology, especially ICT and the Web. All the evidence from the studies that report about the online activities of the elderly suggest that they do much the same online as most other age groups – that is, communication and information searches as well as using online services.
Fox (2004) [Fox 2004] found that older US Web users do product research (66%), purchase goods (47%), make travel reservations (41%), visit government Web sites (100%), look up religious and spiritual information (26%) and do online banking (20%).
Wired seniors are often as enthusiastic as younger users in the major activities that define online life such as email and the use of search engines to answer specific questions (Fox, 2004).
Morris, Goodman and Brading (2007) concluded that the Internet “does enhance the lives of older people” even if the older elderly use the Internet less than younger elderly groups. Also discuss the potential difference between current groups who often have no prior ICT experience and future groups (e.g. The Eurostat 2005 community survey on ICT usage in households and by individuals found declining access to the Internet with age, and only 10% of people over 65 years having Internet access (Figure 1; Table 1) [Eurostat 2005]. The ageing process can often result in elderly people experiencing multiple functional limitations. Pupil shrinkage; resulting in the need for more light and a diminished capacity to adjust to changing light levels. Cataracts [RNIB 2008b], which is a clouding of the clear lens in the eye resulting in blurred vision and glare sensitivity.
Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) [RNIB 2008c], resulting in central vision deterioration and an inability to see fine detail and distinguish colour possibly combined with a sensitivity to glare.
The majority of people who have a hearing loss are older people; they usually notice a gradual age-related reduction and the increasing inability to hear high-pitched sounds [Hearing Concern]. Arthritis is a major cause of mobility issues for the elderly and Wikipedia [Wiki MSD] reports that arthritis is the leading cause of disability in people older than 55 years.
Another age-related condition is Parkinson's Disease, a progressive neurological condition affecting movements such as walking, talking, and writing. The Parkinson’s Disease Society in the UK states “The risk of developing Parkinson's increases with age, and symptoms often appear after the age of 50.
Both arthritis and Parkinson’s are likely to cause difficulties with the mouse use, and even other pointing devices, as well as keyboard use for some sufferers. It has also been suggested [Caserta & Abrams 2007] that situation awareness may be relevant to cognitive ageing, affecting older adults’ perception and comprehension of their environment. Cognitive deficits come in many forms as discussed earlier, but among the elderly, dementia, including Alzheimer’s Disease, appears to be the most prevalent.
Alzheimer’s organisations suggest that dementia is progressive and that during the course of the disease the chemistry and structure of the brain changes, leading to the death of brain cells (e.g. The Alzheimer’s Forum in the UK publishes tips for coping, including computer tips which include the suggestion of getting a mouse that works properly for the users and adjusting the mouse pointer to suit the user [AF Online]. Many older adults may not suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, but do suffer Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) or subjective memory loss ([UCSF MAC]; [AA 2006]). Other forms of cognitive diminishment may also arise with ageing, for example the effects of stroke can result in conditions similar to intellectual impairment. Brennan, Horowitz and Ya-ping (2005) [Brennan 2005] report that twenty percent of America’s older adults (over 70 years) reported dual sensory impairment and the high levels of dual impairment were shown to increase the risk of difficulty with the ‘instrumental activities of daily living’ (including using a telephone, and hence probably a computer and the Web). Many authors observed that not all older adults are the same, and that attitude and aptitude can vary significantly across the elderly age group (e.g.
Morris, Goodman and Brading (2007) [MGB 2007] found that “the barrier is not age, but the respondents’ idea that older people cannot or do not use computers”. However, as Morrell (2005) suggests [Morrell 2005], the post-WWII “baby boomers”, who are moving into the category of ‘older adult’, have often been using ICT at work, and will have greater ability than many current retirees who don’t have a history of experience with ICT and may have begun by using the Web for the first time in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. Many studies have been undertaken of the use of the web by older people, some research based, some user observation, some surveys, some expert opinion. Many of the studies discovered (see References) identify the sensory impairments that develop with age such as vision, dexterity, and hearing as important, while others identify the issue of cognitive ability and overload as key to some elders’ ability to use Web technologies. A majority of the articles discovered (see References) originated from Europe, but a significant number also originated from North America, with a few from Asia and Australasia.
Most of the scientific papers identified in the References included literature reviews relevant to their particular topics, but a few papers were primarily reviews of previous literature. Redish and Chisnell (2004) [Redish 2004] reviewed a large number of articles, books, presentations, Web sites and papers published between 2000 and 2004 relating to web design for older adults. Redish and Chisnell were not surprised to find that much of what they found in the literature about older adults on the Web is good usable design for everyone – consistent navigation, clear writing, skim-able text with lists, etc. Redish and Chisnell commented that older adults are actually less homogenous as an age-group than younger adults.
Redish and Chisnell grouped their findings into four aspects of design – interaction, information architecture, visual design, and information design. Redish and Chisnell conclude by suggesting that older adults should be included more in usability studies of Web design. Many investigations this decade have developed or compiled usability guidelines for making Web sites “senior friendly”, in addition to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines from W3C for people with disabilities. Editor's question - retain or remove the H4 headings identifying the guidelines being discussed? Holt (2000) created one of the earliest set of guidelines for senior-friendly Web sites where she focussed on addressing some of the functional declines often experienced with ageing. While the basis of Holt’s checklist was not clear, much of Holt’s discussion reflected the Checkpoints from WCAG 1.0, while some of it addressed additional issues many functionally limited older adults will experience such as difficulty with pull-down menus and auto-scrolling text. Under these page design aspects, AgeLight discussed many factors that were captured in WCAG 1.0 - WAI is acknowledged in their resource listing - such as flashing and blinking, relative text size, descriptive links, consistent navigation, colour alone, new browser windows, and frame support. AgeLight liken the accommodation of people with disabilities and their assistive technologies to curb-cuts for wheel chair users which benefit a much broader group. Coyne and Nielsen [Coyne & Nielsen 2002] could be considered to have prepared the first definitive set of senior-friendly Web site design recommendations based on user observation published as “Web Usability for Senior Citizens”.
Although Coyne and Nielsen's users were experienced, additional usability issues relating to the browser and operating system were discussed, including the issues of users confusing the address field with the site’s search field (also observed by Kantner and Rosenbaum [Kantner 2003]). Coyne and Nielsen emphasised issues often associated with functional impairment related to ageing such as text size, contrast, scrolling, and drop-down menus, as well as general usability. The majority of the AARP’s heuristics might just be considered conventional usability wisdom – most of this list is of benefit to all users, not just elderly users or users with functional limitations. We are also seeing some patterns develop through all these guidelines about using conventional design and interaction mechanisms, an emphasis on clear presentation and writing, and a requirement for readability with the use of white space and good contrast. Kurniawan and Zaphiris (2005) [Kurniawan 2005] and their colleagues reviewed much previous literature in the area of HCI and ageing to derive an overwhelming initial set of 52 guidelines. Kurniawan and Zaphiris' guidelines are interesting in that they reflect many of the recommendations of previous guidelines, while based much more on scientific literature rather than user observational studies. Fidgeon [Fidgeon 2006] at Webcredible analysed eight usability sessions they had undertaken with older users (over 65 years) and compared them with eight similar sessions they had conducted with younger Web users (under 40 years). Some of their findings were that older users used more emotive terms when describing Web sites and were more likely to assign blame, to themselves, when encountering difficulties. With so many guidelines in existence, it is interesting to ask who knows of them or uses them.
Sloan’s 57 respondents consistently responded “I’ve never heard of them” to all but the Coyne and Nielsen publications with only a few acknowledging that they had read or used them. This lack of awareness, combined with the observed repetitiveness within them, confirms the need for this project and publication. Within the cognition section – what is different between cognitive impairments experienced by the elderly, and cognitive impairments experienced by the general population? A similar question probably needs to be asked about vision impairment and mobility impairment. The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative has released several sets of guidelines to help make the Web more accessible to people with disabilities. It is essential that the different components of Web development and interaction work together in order for the Web to be accessible to people with disabilities (Figure 3).
At the guideline or principle level, it can be seen that most of these will be required in order for an increasing number of elderly to be able to access and interact with the Web in future.
Kantner and Rosenbaum (2003) [Kantner 2003] undertook a study with a small group of people who had undertaken the role of “coach” to the elderly in Michigan in the USA to identify some of the problems elderly computer users encounter, and some of the solutions.
Using different computers and operating systems - this became a problem with senior-centre classes when the attendees returned home to practice, and sometimes when telephone coaching as provided to family and friends.
Coaches were able to change the default font size in Word, but didn't know what to do for browsers or at the operating system level. Practice was the only solution, and preparing ahead of going to the computer for some activities. With respect to the accessibility settings available, three coaches had not thought of it, one did not have the authority, and three had adjusted the mouse settings.


Kantner and Rosenbaum recommended that success stories from coaches need to be collected and published so that others can learn from their experiences.
The experience of the University of Dundee [Dickinson 2005] reflected many of the experiences of the Michigan coaches reported earlier by Kantner and Rosenbaum, including a lack of knowledge and confidence, and confusion about searching.
To reduce the software complexity, the interfaces to Word, Outlook Express and Internet Explorer (IE) were simplified (e.g. Hawthorn (2005) [Hawthorn 2005] also stresses the importance of simplifying the interface for older users new to computers and the Web. In another UK study of an Internet training project called Care Online, Osman et al (2005) [Osman 2005] report that, while most of the volunteers had no intention of connecting to the Internet before the project, the majority intended to stay connected afterwards. In addition to the studies on the general issues of ageing, some studies focussed on the particular issues of mobility and dexterity with input devices, specifically mouse use.
Three studies have been considered here dealing with Parkinson’s Disease, general ageing and pointing devices, and a possible solution provided via expanding targets.
Keates and Trewin (2005) [Keates 2005] investigated one of the common motor skill diminishments associated with ageing – Parkinson’s Disease. Keates and Trewin found that seniors take longer to complete tasks, and pause frequently, while initiating movement can be difficult for people with Parkinson’s disease.
While previous studies apparently showed preferences for direct pointing devices such as a light pen, supporting the observation that older adults experience declines in spatial abilities and in motor control and coordination, Jastrzembski et al showed that tasks requiring a combination of keyboard entry and pointer were best completed with a mouse unless the user was required to change from their preferred hand. Jastrzembski et al did suggest that adjusting the mouse acceleration could be a tactic for improving ‘target acquisition’ among older novice users. The third study reviewed, by Bohan and Scarlett (2003) [Bohan 2003], considered the accommodation of older adults difficulties with mouse use via expanding targets as the cursor approaches.
The first two studies highlighted mouse use issues faced by older ICT users, while the final study suggested a possible Web site technique for overcoming some of these.
Parker and Scharff (1998) [Parker 1998] in a study of contrast sensitivity and age on readability, found that older adults (over 45 years) performed better with high contrast and positive polarity. Editor's Question: Are there some other studies to precede or support this next one of Bernard, Liao and Mills? Bernard, Liao and Mills (2001) [Bernard 2001] looked at what might be the best font for older adults online bearing in mind the many age-related factors affecting reading. Bernard, Liao and Mills concluded, not surprisingly, that larger san serif fonts gave the best online reading results for older adults. There have been many practical and theoretical studies of cognition and Web user interfaces, e.g. Czerwinski and Larson (2002) [Czerwinski 2002] discuss some basic principles from cognitive science that should be applied to Web site design, in particular how grouping and symmetry can be applied to leverage visual perception and attention, and the use of spatial layout to leverage human spatial memory. Czerwinski and Larson also raise an interesting phenomenon of cognition and the Web that applies to many users, but may apply particularly to elderly users, and is particularly relevant with the move to scripted partial page updates. In more elderly-targeted studies, Savitch and Zaphiris (2006) [Savitch 2006] were looking at information architecture issues for people suffering from dementia. Berkov (2007) [Berkov 2007] in a small study of Web users with Mild Cognitive Impairment (average age 82 years) who were regular computer users, found that having too many choices on the home page (i.e. Gregor and Dickinson (2007) [Gregor 2007] looked at simplified interfaces as a solution to some forms of cognitive impairment, criticising some Web designs for providing ‘idiosyncratic means of navigation’ and duplicating the functionality of the browser as sources of confusion for some users.
Initial studies of eye-movement with older users working with the “non-browser” facilitated users’ ability to access the content. Coyne and Nielsen (2002) [Coyne & Nielsen 2002] also found that older users were more forgiving of negative experiences than their younger counterparts. A study by Johnson and Kent [Johnson 2007] with both younger users (18 – 59 years) and older users (over 60 years) found that designs specifically for the elderly group improved task performance for that group while not detracting from task performance for the younger group.
Hawthorn (2003) [Hawthorn 2003], examining the issues that arose during the design of an email system for older users, found that most new older ICT users wanted to “keep it simple so we can learn it”. Forms are part of our world, and now the Web, and a necessary requirement for e-Commerce, e-Government e-Publishing and most online applications.
As can be seen, these requirements mirror many of the requirements for usable online forms identified by many others, but confirm them as necessary for the older person online.
Sayago and Blat (2007) [Sayago 2007] considered two aspects of form design and their impact on elderly users (65-74 years), namely distinguishing between optional and compulsory fields, and the usability of checkboxes, radio-buttons and list-boxes.
While designing a site for a pensioners association in Spain, they found that members had difficulty distinguishing between optional and compulsory fields when the conventional asterisk was used as this was largely invisible to them.
Search has been reported as a key usability feature for many elderly users, but what are the issues for elderly users? In a follow up study Aula and Käki (2005) [Aula 2005b] had participants use a simplified version of a Finnish search engine, Etsin, in addition to Google. This is a new and improved version, as I had to update, the other formatting was no longer supported. Ieder jaar komt het Amerikaanse zakenblad weer met lijstjes wie het meeste geld heeft binnengesleept.
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It will compare how well these requirements are addressed and communicated by the WAI guidelines. This is a draft document and may be updated, replaced or obsoleted by other documents at any time. By the turn of the century the Web had entered most aspects of our lives from communication to e-Government, e-Commerce and e-Learning, making it much more than just an information repository. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect” [TBL 1997] and more recently “One Web for anyone, everywhere on anything” [TBL 2004] – this is all part of the Web’s ‘full potential’. Furthermore, the European Union (EU) and the European Commission (EC) have programmes in place to ensure that e-Inclusion for people with disabilities is enhanced among the Member States, and it is also addressing the needs of the elderly and other disadvantaged groups.
The United Nations (UN) estimates that by 2050 one out of every five people will be over 60 years, and by 2150, one third of the people in the world are expected to be 60 years of age or older [UN 2007; UN 1998]. However, while these guidelines address many of the requirements needed by the ageing population, the relevance of the WAI guidelines to the needs of older people with functional disabilities caused by ageing does not seem to be well understood. Morris, Goodman and Brading (2007), in their UK (Derbyshire) study, found that the information searches were often related to hobbies and interests (68%), travel and holidays (50%) and health or medical (28%). However, this is low by many countries' measurements, and more detailed country-based statistics are provided in the Appendix. The Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) estimates for the UK that at around the age of 50 the proportion of deaf people begins to increase sharply and 55% of people over 60 are deaf or hard of hearing [RNID]. The US-based Arthritis Foundation reports that 50% of Americans over 65 experience arthritis [Arthritis Foundation 2008] , while Arthritis Care in the UK report that 20% of all adults in the UK are affected [Arthritis Care 2007]. Alzheimer’s Disease International provides figures showing that the incidence of dementia is nearly 25% among over 85 years olds (Table 4) [ADI 1999]. Brennan, Horowitz and Ya-ping’s findings highlight the importance of sensory resources for everyday competence and the elderly maintaining their functional independence. Additionally, many of the survey respondents in their UK study cited a lack of Internet access as a key barrier to use. Some of these studies have looked at the elderly as a group, others have focussed on specific issues faced by the elderly, including their approach to learning about ICT and the Web. A compounding issue is that people with accessibility needs due to ageing are less likely to identify themselves as “disabled” than people who experience these changes earlier in life (e.g. They were looking for broad usability issues for older Web users, while this review aims to identify opportunities to extend the existing WAI technical, education, and outreach work to accommodate the overlapping needs of people with disabilities and older adults with age-related functional limitations.
Another aspect of the elderly that their study reinforced is that older adults are not a homogenous group – something that many others have also commented on (e.g. As Zaphiris, Kurniawan and Ghiawadwala (2006) suggest, some of these are developed in academia and are theory driven, while others come from the Web industry and are derived from practical experience. This confirms the general feeling that this author has had, that many studies are either “reinventing the wheel” or not surveying and building on the appropriate range of existing literature.
Holt specifically mentions a variety of visual, intellectual, hearing and motor-skill impairments that are common in older adults.
These guidelines, described as “interface design guidelines for all ages” were based on focus groups, user feedback, and wide collaboration with practitioners and researchers.
They also discussed a number of additional factors addressing the specific needs of some older people facing various functional limitations such as readability, fine motor control, and cognition such as the use of CAPITALS, large text size, colour schemes, and uncluttered pages. Like Holt, AgeLight have emphasised the importance of broad usability for older users, especially those new to ICT and Web technologies.
The usability testing of the NIHseniorhealth Web site and other sites following the Checklist has confirmed its usefulness in making sites senior-friendly. They also recommended a text-resizing button or link on Web pages to overcome older users' lack of familiarity with browser controls.
Like the previous guidelines they also raised broader useability issues that will benefit everyone such as their Search recommendations.
It is interesting to note that the AARP did not empasise the requirement for large text size like the previous guidelines have. These were then categorised by postgraduate computing students through a card-sorting exercise into nine distinct categories.
Many of these guidelines are similar to the WCAG 1.0 Checklist, while others emphasis the specific needs of older users with functional limitations including clarity and readability of text, clear (large) links, and providing reading time. They also found that the elderly users often failed to scroll down, thus missing key information, were less likely to understand technical language, but had a higher propensity to use the search facility than their younger counterparts.
Sloan (2006), acknowledging that WCAG 1.0 was the de facto standard for Web site accessibility, undertook a survey of web designers to see which ‘senior-friendly’ and other usability guidelines Web designers and developers were aware of and used. These include guidelines relating to the presentation of content (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines), the accessibility of user agents, including browsers (User Agent Accessibility Guidelines) and the requirements of authoring tools, including blogs and online forums, for the creation of accessible content and for use by people with disabilities (Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines). The detail within these guidelines tells Web site developers, Web application developers, authoring tool and blog developers, and browser and users agent developers, how to achieve this.
They interviewed seven people who coached elderly people (65 years or older) to use computers and the Web and asked them about the top two problems they had observed, and about their training strategy. The UTOPIA team at the University of Dundee in Scotland was approached to teach a class of older adults to use computers and the Web. Hawthorn worked with a group of 25 older users (average age 70 years) to teach them file management skills using a modification of the UTOPIA methodology [Eisma 2004].
No studies were identified which investigated issues of keyboard use, although casual observation of the authors own elderly family members indicates that this can be an impediment to ICT usage.


In a previous study Trewin and Pain (1999) [Trewin 1999] found that people with motor disabilities had error rates of greater than 10% when trying to point and click with a mouse on small targets. Parkinson’s Disease users were also observed to make slight mouse movements while trying to press the button. Their participants were experienced mouse users and they were investigating whether age had any impact on mouse use and whether a light pen may be a better input device for older users.
Participants in this study were young adults (median age 20 years) or elderly (median age 81 years), and all reported to be daily computer users. In particular, they found that “white text presented on a black background (high-contrast, positive polarity) slows reaction times compared with black text on a white background (high-contrast, negative polarity). They looked at legibility, reading time and general preference of two types of serif and sans serif fonts at 12 and 14 point sizes. This later principle supports Jacob Nielsen’s suggestions that “users prefer your site to work the same way as all the other sites they already know” [Nielsen 2000].
The phenomenon is “change blindness”, where small changes on a page are not noticed by the user. They found, in a study involving 10 participants with dementia, that some of them found it difficult to group topics, leading to questions about flat vs. They also acknowledged the conflict between on-screen complexity, which can reduce comprehension, and deep interface structure, which places a burden on memory. This approach is similar to the approach taken by IBM in the development of “Easy Web Browsing” (Figure 6) [Takizawa 2008], but simpler and more drastic visually. Some of the design aspects targeting the older group were large text size, clearer link text, plain neutral background, input by selection rather than free text, and detailed instructions. This is in conflict with the techniques used by most designers to support a modern feature rich application, and may also limit the power of an application to serve the requirements of more able and more demanding users. Even in the paper world, forms are confusing for many users – witness voting, taxes, banking, etc. Based on a series of interviews with older adults (over 60 years), combined with evaluation of some prototypes, they derived an initial set of seven guidelines, and with a follow-up study, they extended this with six additional requirements. In a trial with the conventional asterisk and a form that clearly separated required fields from optional fields, all the participants expressed strong preferences for the “divided online form”. Aula (2005) [Aula 2005a] reported on a study of elderly users (mean age 67.3 years) in Finland with varied computer experience using search engines.
It is anything specific and unique to your child–determined by their areas of need, to help them access their education.
Informal communication occurs when individuals talk using no par­ticular agenda or protocol. Waren het vorige jaren vooral zijn kindjes die het geld moesten binnenslepen, dit jaar was Will te zien in Men in Black 3, en volgend jaar in After Earth. This early version is intended to elicit comment and feedback on the literature collected and discussed so far.
By 2006, in addition to online services (banking, taxation, shopping, etc), we also saw the advent of web-based applications such as calendars, office-type applications, forums, chat, blogs, etc. In 1999 the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) published the first set of international guidelines for Web accessibility, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (WCAG), documenting the essential requirements for Web content to be accessible to people with disabilities.
In particular, they have agreed to “address the needs of older workers and elderly people by … exploiting the full potential of the internal market of information and communications technology (ICT) services and products for the elderly, amongst others by addressing demand fragmentation by promoting interoperability through standards and common specifications where appropriate” [EC 2006]. Wikipedia reports that Parkinson’s Disease can also lead to cognitive and visual disturbances [Wiki PD]. Ability is often related to experience, for example mouse control for elderly new computer users can be problematic ([Dickinson 2005]; [Hawthorn 2005]). Some of the studies have referenced the work of the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), but many seem to have been undertaken in oblivion of this work and the WAI Guidelines which were first released in 1999. AgeLight also considered some of the software and hardware issues that could assist older users such as different mice and browser adjustments. A focus group of HCI experts reviewed the categories to derive the final set of 38 guidelines in 11 categories. Webcredible recommend these design features for all sites and acknowledge a need for further investigation. As the Web has become an interactive medium, the interrelationships between the guidelines and the users become increasingly important to allow access to information and to allow the creation of information. Computer and Web training can take the form of formal class-based training, but also informal training by friends and family who act as “coaches”. Ten common problems were observed by at least 4 of the coaches (Table 5) and a variety of solutions identified. Even with the reduced IE interface, users became confused when trying to search and often used the address bar instead of the search engine input box. Compared with the simplified IE interface they worked with, (Figure 4) they emphasised the value of the Home button, and questioned the value of the ‘forward arrow’ and the address bar.
Part of simplifying the interface to the learning environment included large fonts, high contrast, and simple sentence structure.
The 2005 investigation included young adults, adults, older adults (average age 79 years) and adults with Parkinson’s Disease (average age 57 years); most of the participants were experienced mouse users. Both of these groups behaved differently from the behaviours predicted by the theoretical models developed for able-bodied users.
Bohan's and Scarlet’s older adults took significantly longer to acquire the ‘target’ than the younger adults, regardless of target expansion, although early target expansion was found to significantly help the older users almost as much as a stationary larger target. At the other [lower] contrast levels, polarity makes no significant difference.” They also reported that the effect of polarity was significant for the older age group but not for the younger (18 – 25 years) group.
Some researchers have looked specifically at cognition issues as they relate to the elderly, e.g.
This ‘blindness’ may be due to distraction, or may be related to concentration and perception. This approach may also assist elderly users suffering from some of the possible effects of stroke such as short-term memory problems and “difficulty in learning new information and problems in conceptualising and generalising” [Brain Foundation 2003]. In a study with novice older Web users, the authors were involved in the development of the “non-browser” in which the browser itself was stripped away to allow the content to fully occupy the screen, and a very reduced set of controls was presented on the bottom of the screen as five buttons (Figure 5) - ideally on a touch screen – such as “go back to start, “go back a page”, “look down”, “make black and white”, and “magnify”.
Hawthorn also observes that with the declines in memory, cognition, eyesight and dexterity faced by many ageing people, the ability to adapt to new, more demanding applications is reduced. Independently of any previous computer experience, all the participants had difficulty with the list-boxes.
Aula and Käki concluded that new elderly Web users benefit from simplified interfaces, especially while learning. The older users took more time than the younger users to perform tasks on the ergonomic site, but a similar length of time on the non-ergonomic site; both groups performed more quickly on the ergonomic site and were more satisfied with it. I am a Special Education Advocate and Disabilities Consultant, run this blog and the Facebook group and manage to squeeze in time for lobbying. In particular we are interested in whether there are gaps in our coverage, or key resources overlooked.
This evolving online world presents ongoing access challenges to people with functional impairments and disabilities. Accessibility requirements for authoring tools (ATAG) and user agents (UAAG), including browsers followed.
The EC has been addressing the technology needs of the elderly for some time; however under the 6th Framework Programme (FP6) of research under the Information Society and Technology (IST) programme, several calls have focused on the needs of the elderly in the information society [Placencia-Porrero 2007]. As a result, they are less likely to learn of, and to avail themselves of, resources which can help address their needs. The guidelines were validated through a process of heuristic reviews of two Web sites targeting older people by six participants with HCI experience. Some of these problems can be attributed to functional limitations associated with ageing while others (e.g.
As experienced computer users themselves, the researchers conducting the classes had to recognise that their own knowledge was a potential problem.
The learners were also surprised when search results loaded a PDF document, and often missed the PDF icon often associated with these files.
The experience at the University of Dundee also emphasised the importance of written combined with hand-on support for older learners.
Hawthorn found that building a conceptual framework was possible, but that many of the participants required time and active hands-on exercises. Savitch and Zaphiris (2006) [Savitch 2006], Caserta and Abrams (2007) [Caserta & Abrams 2007], XXXX. For some users it may actually not even be within the current view, depending on the size of the current browser window and how much of the page is actually displayed. While Savitch and Zaphiris suggest that it might be tempting to dismiss the sub-group that couldn't’t undertake the grouping exercise, they had no evidence that these people could not use a computer or would not be interested in the information on the Alzheimer’s Society Web site as they were very happy to discuss the topics being presented. They present automatic content transformation as a challenge to be solved by the Semantic Web community along with language transformation research. This observation is probably applicable to the ability of some elderly users to adapt to upgraded browsers and newer Web 2.0 style dynamic online applications.
Many of their strategies overlap with what I’ve already put here, but just in case you wanted more, you got it. It should be noted that this is a work-in-progress and that not all sections are yet complete. A final verification used a panel of sixteen older web users (average age 59.2 years) to look at the same two sites and rank the usefulness of each guideline from ‘one’ (useless) to ‘five’ (very useful) – all the guidelines were ranked ‘three’ or above.
The studies identified around this topic generally related to formal training situations established for research purposes (e.g. When just asked about their perception of legibility, the participants indicated that size was the major factor, and overall they had a preference for the san serif fonts.
Some of these studies deal with general cognition issues for the elderly, while others look at specific situations such as dementia. Savitch and Zaphiris suggest more research is needed around site architecture and navigation system requirements for dementia sufferers. The elderly users were also asked for any suggestions for missing guidelines – eight additions were suggested that will be considered in future developments (Zaphiris, Kurniawan and Ghiawdwala, 2006) [Zaphris 2006].
UTOPIA [Dickinson 2002]), and provide insights to the problems experienced by the elderly online.



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