Alarm pendants: the experience of older people

CEUD Site-LogoRather than using a PowerPoint presentation, an actor with a script written by the researcher, Steve Daunt, communicates the results of his study. The script compares the difficulties older people face with everyday technology such as a mobile phone with the alarm pendant. It highlights how these pendants may not be as effective as the designers might think.

The study uncovered many device design issues that the users struggled with – such as buttons being the same colour as the device casing. Contextual use of the device was found to be an issue for the older users; for example, where reduced mobility and dexterity made it difficult to reach down to and operate a DVD player placed at a low level relative to the ground.

One major finding from the pendant alarm technology was that the older people assessed were mostly unsure or unaware of what steps would occur after they had pressed the alarm button.

Many of the designs that older users struggled with in their “difficult technology” made no allowance for users lack of technical knowledge or exposure. Some of the designs were found to be extremely poor and it is likely that other user groups would also have had difficulty with the technology. For example, some devices lacked labelling or feedback which are violations to basic usability principles.

Initial findings from the study were presented as a “dramatic reading”at the ActivAge 2012 conference. You can access the 15 minute video  at the bottom of the webpage.