Arguably, this is the Predominant Internet question. There are thousands of volunteers, both young and old, sprinkled across America doing the best they can to assist all that they can, but these few are vastly out-numbered by individuals that require assistance. Half of the U.S. population is on the wrong side of the digital divide and this group includes users of all ages, young and old.
Seniors especially have pondered this question, usually as they face user interfaces that are poorly designed. The University of Wisconsin just received a $20 million grant to contribute to a user interface design that will address short-comings of technology that has been designed without them in mind. According to Professor Gregg Vanderheiden, “There are many people who, because of disability, literacy, digital literacy or aging, can’t use technologies they encounter.”
“As a society we are designing the world out from under these people. Projects should be designed so when a person encounters something with a digital interface –a computer, Web page, TV, thermostat –the interface on the device or Web page instantly and automatically changes into a form that the person can understand and use.”
In this digital era technology designers do not understand older adults, so new products are generally not used. The older population controls much of the wealth (and thus the buying power). But apparently that is irrelevant. As Paula Span’s NY Times article makes note, to design for senior’s means first relating to them. That seems to be a near-insurmountable barrier, judging from the AARP fitness tracker debacle, or the CHCF research report on boomers and mobile health – when Viant Capital’s Scott Smith is told by a fitness tracker exec: “You are not our core demographic.”
The internet is not accessed by a large segment of society –and proponents are baffled. Many articles shed light on some reasons – but no clear process remedy. If you go to the actual Pew Research report key chart, what are the non-usage reasons, in particular for the 39% of those 65+ (which is the largest percentage of any age group)? “Too difficult to use” is cited – which is ultimately a problem for everyone.
Read Article (Laurie Orlov | ageinplacetech.com | 10/26/2015)
Everyone that is not tech-savvy or comfortable online, is on the wrong side of the Digital Divide which exposes them to consequences which sometimes are serious.
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