Friday, May 27, 2011

Web accessibility and the elderly

Roger Hudson from Web Usability, will talk on "Web accessibility and the elderly" at the Web Standards Group meeting in Canberra, 8 June 2011. This will be followed by Pia Waugh on "Open data and the importance of visualisation".

The web is being increasingly used to provide essential services, but more could be done to make this material accessible to older web users. There is no precise definition of what comprises the "elderly" and a variety of labels are used to describe older people who use the web. This paper outlines recent research into the use of the web by people over the age of 60: What proportion uses the web, how much they use it and why they use it.

The move to online service delivery offers some clear benefits in terms of cost and improved efficiency. Also, the use of social networking tools could potentially enhance openness and greater community participation in the process of government. However as more and more essential services go online, there is a real danger that a significant number of older people may be unable or unwilling to access them.

This paper was originally presented by Roger Hudson at the CSUN 2011 conference in the US. It outlines some common issues older web users encounter and their general lack of awareness about how they can control the presentation of web content. The paper concludes by looking at several options for helping older users of the web overcome some of the problems raised.

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