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. 

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Web accessibility auditing

CEUD Site-LogoThe Centre for Excellence in Universal Design in Ireland has developed a very useful resource for web developers and website managers.

To find out how to improve the accessibility of a website you must establish its current level of accessibility. A web accessibility audit measures the accessibility level of your website against accessibility standards. It should lead to a list of actions to make your site more accessible to all users.

Go to the CEUD website to download the resources.

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Trends in Universal Design

Picture of a long concrete inclined walkway with the silhouette of two wheelchair usersThis document was compiled by the Delta Centre in Norway after the 2012 International UD Conference in Oslo. The conference gathered researchers, students, users, planners, public officers and other practitioners from 44 countries.  More than 150 presentations were given.  This multidisciplinary anthology contains examples from around the globe. Download PDF Trends in Universal Design here, or access via the web.

The Delta Centre is the Government’s National Resource Centre for Participation and Accessibility, and works for an inclusive society for a diverse population.

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Norway universally designed by 2025

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The Norwegian Government has taken the principles of universal design and applied them to their planning policies.  This has the effect of making everyone responsible for inclusion at every level – in the built environment, outdoor areas, transport, and ICT.  You can download their latest action plan Norway universally designed by 2025.

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