Internet use by older people with low vision

world-wide-web_318-9868Internet use: Perceptions and experiences of visually impaired older adults

This study published in the Journal of Social Inclusion provides some excellent qualitative research – the comments from older people with vision loss are especially revealing. Anyone involved in computer technology should read this, especially those designing and posting to websites and designing email platforms. The study comes from the University of Northumbria, Newcastle UK. Note: the authors use the term “visually impaired”. In Australia the correct term is “vision impaired” or “people with low vision”.

Griffith University PressThis study has been made freely available by Griffith University Press.


Creating alternative formats

This video from the Universal Design Centre California State University explains the importance of providing multiple means of representation – documents and information in alternative formats.  The video is an example of universal design itself, and is something we should all strive for in our communications and documentation every time.


Designing mobile apps for a National Park

Yosemite 1Creating Alternative Formats. The design of brochures for National Park Service in the USA has evolved into reliance on graphic images of pictures and maps as a means of stimulating interest in visiting. However, this style of brochure does not lend itself well to audio description and other formats. This article traces the detailed research into formulating appropriate designs for alternative formats. Adopting a components-based approach, the intention was to provide clear pathways for cross-modal translation of the printed material into audio-described media, which then, can be efficiently distributed via mobile apps, as an extension of these original components. There is also a link to the Unigrid system that is applied to all NPS brochures.



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. 


UD and ICT for improved teaching and learning

UDL Jeff SouterThis slideshow by Jeff Souter is titled, Universal Design for Learning: An Approach to Maximise Learning for All Students.  He brings together UDL and ICT and lists 3 principles for UDL for learners of all ages:

Multiple means of representation – providing learners with various ways to acquire knowledge and information.  Multiple means of expression – providing learners with alternatives to demonstrate what they know and what and how they think. Multiple means of engagement – providing learners with appropriate means of engaging and interacting with the learning environment. 


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.


eAccessibility policy in Europe: A review

The title of this research paper is DREAM work package: Monitoring the Implementation & Enforcement of eAccessibility law and policy at the Member State level”

E-accessibility refers to the design of information and communication technologies that are usable by persons with disabilities. The principle aim of this study was to identify how different intermediaries (e.g., policy approaches, participatory processes and commercial incentives) impact the monitoring, implementation and enforcement of e-accessibility policies. DREAM is the acronym for a group of member states interested in this endeavour.  The findings revealed:

  1. The need to develop an international procedural standard
  2. The need for a web accessibility professional association
  3. The need for a procedural accreditation