#DisruptAging Designing Tech For Elders

February 27, 2015
Virgil Thomas, ChangingAging.org

Human instinct is to look for a tech solution to most of our problems. Traveling to slow? Let’s build a car. Want to see pictures of cats? Let’s build the internet. Although, when it comes to aging technological innovation can tend to miss the mark. Look no further than the apparent interest in robot caregivers. See the video below for our official opinion of automated caregivers.

However, a recent article in Smashing Magazine has embraced a #DisruptAging theme in the way the examine technology and elders. So many things in life are designed, and operated with a bias towards youth.

If you work in the tech industry, it’s easy to forget that older people exist.Most tech workers are really young, so it’s easy to see why most technology is designed for young people. But consider this: By 2030, around 19% of people in the US will be over 65. Doesn’t sound like a lot? Well it happens to be about the same number of people in the US who own an iPhone today. Which of these two groups do you think Silicon Valley spends more time thinking about?

 

This seems unfortunate when you consider all of the things technology has to offer older people . . . .

 

Color vision also declines with age, and we become worse at distinguishing between similar colors. In particular, shades of blue appear to be faded or desaturated.

 

Hearing also declines in predictable ways, and a large proportion of people over 65 have some form of hearing loss. While audio is seldom fundamental to interaction with a product, there are obvious implications for certain types of content.

 

Vision And Hearing

 

From the age of about 40, the lens of the eye begins to harden, causing a condition called “presbyopia.” This is a normal part of ageing that makes it increasingly difficult to read text that is small and close.

 

Key lessons:

 

  • Avoid font sizes smaller than 16 pixels (depending of course on device, viewing distance, line height etc.).
  • Let people adjust text size themselves.
  • Pay particular attention to contrast ratios with text.
  • Avoid blue for important interface elements.
  • Always test your product using screen readers.
  • Provide subtitles when video or audio content is fundamental to the user experience.

Continue Reading Here . . .

 

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