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How to make accessible technology for elderly users
Reading time 6 mins
- A growing worldwide demographic of people aged 60 years or older poses a challenge for all countries to ensure that health and social systems are in place to support them
- Accessible technologies (e.g. telehealth) and assistive devices (e.g. communication, visual, and memory aids) can help senior adults to live happier, healthier, and more independent lives
- Engineers need to pay special attention to interface design to ensure technologies are accessible for elderly users
- Reduce cognitive load
- Ensure buttons are easy to manipulate and text is easy to read
- Usability that takes technological proficiency of older users into account
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People worldwide are living longer. The World Health Organization estimates that 1 in 6 people will be aged 60 years or older by 2023, and in some countries outnumber infants. This demographic shift poses a significant challenge for all countries to ensure they have health and social systems in place to support an increasingly aged population. Accessible technology for elderly users will play a crucial role in helping senior adults to live happier, healthier, and more independent lives.
Common health conditions associated with aging include hearing loss, cataracts, osteoarthritis, pulmonary disease, diabetes, depression, and dementia. Thus, technologies and assistive devices such as visual, communication, and memory aids; as well as telehealth systems and medication reminders would help senior adults to benefit from improved health outcomes.
Designing technology that’s accessible to and tailored for for elderly users requires engineers to consider a range of factors such as cognitive load, physical accessibility, and usability. Let’s take a look at how engineers can create technologies specifically tailored to elderly users.
How to consider human factors in wearable design processes
Interface design for older adults
1. Cognitive Load
One of the key considerations when designing accessible technology for elderly users is understanding their cognitive abilities. Elderly users often have a reduced capacity to process information and make decisions quickly, so it is important to design user interfaces with this in mind. This means minimizing cognitive load by reducing clutter on the screen, providing clear instructions and prompts, and using simple language throughout the interface. In addition, providing visual cues such as color-coding can help reduce confusion.
2. Physical Accessibility
Another consideration when making technology accessible for elderly users is ensuring that it is physically accessible. This means making sure that the size of buttons and text are large enough for them to be easily seen by older eyes, that there are no obstacles blocking their reach (such as sharp corners), and that any parts of the device that need to be touched or manipulated are easy to access (such as switches). It also means paying close attention to ergonomics: devices should be designed so they do not put undue strain on muscles or joints, which can be especially problematic for those with arthritis or other chronic conditions.
Finally, designing accessible technology for elderly users requires taking into account their level of technical proficiency – which may not be as intuitive as younger generations. Elderly users may not be familiar with newer technologies or know how to use them correctly which can lead to frustration if they cannot get the device to work properly—or worse yet, they could injure themselves if they attempt something beyond their capabilities.
To avoid this issue, it is important to make sure that any device being designed has clear instructions on how it works (including step-by-step images) and allows users ample time and support in learning how to use it properly before attempting anything more complicated than basic functions.
A final word on making technology accessible for elderly users
Designing accessible technology specifically tailored for elderly users requires taking into account many different factors – from cognitive load and physical accessibility all the way through to usability – if we want our designs to truly meet their needs. By keeping these considerations in mind during the development process, engineers will be able create effective solutions that will allow elderly people around the world access the latest technologies without having worry about whether or not they are up for the task!
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