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Posts in category 'Elderly'

15 May 2006

Major usability and accessibility initiative launched in the UK [BBC]

it enables
The BBC news website reports on the e-inclusion charter, one of the key projects of the it enables consortium, which aims “to research the use of information and communication technology (ICT) by disabled people”.

The e-inclusion charter aims “to provide clear guidelines on how best to develop ICT working to ensure it includes and benefits disabled people”. It is based on the premise that “disabled and older people should have the same rights to participate in the Information Society as other citizens. Information and communication technology (ICT) such as personal computers, mobile phones and interactive TV should be tools that help overcome barriers they face in education, the workplace and social life.”

In the BBC article (excerpt below), the organisers stress that they are aiming at more than just increasing accessibility for disabled users, but want to promote usability improvements for everyone.

The consortium partners include the Alliance for Digital Inclusion (ADI), a pan-industry body focusing on the impact of information and communication technology on our society, with AOL UK, BT, Cisco Systems UK, IBM UK, Intel UK & Ireland, Microsoft UK and T-Mobile as its members, RNID, the Disabled Living Foundation, and the leading technology development consultancy Scientific Generics.

From the BBC story:

Technology firms are being targeted in a bid to make hardware and software easier to use for everyone.

The initiative, backed by disability charities and big firms like BT, aims to make hi-tech firms take usability more seriously.

They want to get companies thinking about how to make goods and services easy to use while design work is done.

Firms signing up will be expected to make big changes to all the things they do that customers encounter.

Despite the involvement of charities that try to raise awareness of accessibility issues, Guido Gybels, director of new technologies at the RNID, said the charter aimed to help everyone.

“We are not talking about small groups of people with specialist needs,” he said.

Instead, said Mr Gybels, the charter wanted to make companies apply accessibility and usability to everything they produce – no matter who buys it or uses it.

Read full story

11 May 2006

When the new old are eternal youths

Active and ageing
Julia Huber, co-author of Demos‘ ‘The New Old‘ and ‘Eternal Youths‘ reports, recently shared her work and ideas on ageing at the UK Design Council.

She discussed the implications of an ageing population of baby boomers and stressed the need for consideration of the social, cultural and polictical challenges (not just the economic dimensions) of catering for the needs of the ‘new old’, as well as increasing their potential contribution to society:

  • Quality of life for older people is no different to quality of life for younger people.
  • Age is not as important as life stage. People become old at different ages.
  • Elderly people are as diverse as any other group in society. There is no such thing as “the elderly”. Moreover old age comprises different life stages. In particular: 3rd Age and 4th Age.
  • Quality of life in old age combines how we approach life and how we approach death. Furthermore, hope is essential in both life and death.
  • Most spending on the elderly, funds services to tackle physical illness and financial need and neglect the social and emotional aspects of well being.
  • Most of the money is concentrated in institutions while services fail to mobilise the resources in families and communities.
  • “Care” is an emotional relationship not a transactional relationship. As a result the “care” industry succeeds in providing services to support physical and health needs but fails to meet emotional and social needs.

(from the Design Council’s RED website)

4 May 2006

PsychNology, a journal on the relationship between humans and technology

PsychNology Journal
PsychNology Journal is an international, peer-reviewed, on-line journal interested in investigating the relationship between humans and technology from a multidisciplinary perspective.

The term ‘PsychNology’ results from the merge of two words, Psychology and Technology, and has been chosen in order to emphasize the tight relationship connecting the two concepts. It releases three issues a year and publishes orginal papers subject to a review process. It embraces an open access policy to increase accessibility of scientific content and offer colors, videos, off-prints and registration at no cost for readers and authors.

The current issue deals with the digital divide and upcoming issues are planned on emerging trends in cybertherapy, designing technology to meet the needs of the older user, and mobile media and communication.

Past issues have dealt with such topics as usability in electronic environments, body in cyberspace, future interfaces (part a and part b), human-computer interactions, computer support for collaborative learning, and space, place and technology (part a and part b).

(via Nicolas Nova in Pasta & Vinegar)

4 May 2006

Mining the golden years [Business Week]

The 50-plus market
The sight of customers tying themselves into knots is usually a spur for businesses to invent something better. Yet brands willfully ignore the frustration of a particular market segment, which is growing larger and wealthier each year.

The insults dealt casually to older consumers are numerous: websites that fly in the face of accessibility, packaging that is difficult to open, fiddly IT products that put fashion before easy use, portions that force aging singletons to buy meals designed for kids. Then there are the age-ghetto items, such as stair-lifts, which mainstream advertisers dispatched long ago to a no-man’s-land, sign-posted geriatric.

Today’s oldest consumers were born too early to benefit from the ongoing revolution. Fast-forward through a couple of decades and the world may look very different. The most successful businesses, in all likelihood, will appeal to age, not youth.

Society will change because of population aging. The baby-boom generation’s age now ranges from 42 to 60. As the demographic bulge works its way from mid to late life, businesses will be — as Dick Stroud, author of The 50-Plus Market, states — compelled by economic logic to shift their center of gravity from the younger generation to the older generation

Read full story

1 May 2006

Japan’s toys for the elderly [BBC]

Japan's toys for the elderly
Open up almost any children’s toy box and you’ll probably find a few toys that were made or designed in Japan.

The problem for Japanese companies is that the country’s falling population means that there are now less children than before to play with them.

That has led the toy companies to turn to adults as potential customers.

Take the business Tomy, which had a world wide hit with the children’s robot toy Transformers.

One of its latest lines is a doll that is selling very well to adult women, especially women over the age of 60.

Read full story

25 April 2006

The latest from GAIN, AIGA’s Journal of Business and Design

GAIN, AIGA's Journal of Business and Design
GAIN, AIGA’s Journal of Business and Design, is a rich resource for user experience designers.

They just published for instance a series of papers that were originally presented at the dux 05 conference and I highlight some here:

The Mobile Storefront: let your fingers do the shopping
The Mobile Storefront Case Study is a project to improve the retail user experience for shopping and purchasing ringtones, games, pictures, and other content on handsets.
Abstract | Full paper (pdf, 348 kb, 7 pages)

Designing speculative household cleaning
This report examines the impact of aging on housework in the context of product design and presents a human-centered approach to designing cleaning products.
Abstract | Full paper (pdf, 7.7 mb, 7 pages)

Design-led passenger environment and passenger experience
This paper explores the need for design-aid tools to help designers understand and communicate the end-user perception of comfort, focusing in particular on the case of railway passengers.
Abstract | Full paper (pdf, 712 kb, 5 pages)

Augmenting the City: the design of a context-aware mobile web site
This paper presents the design of “Just-for-Us” – a context-aware web site for mobile devices augmenting the social experience of the city. The produced solution augments the city through web-based access to a digital layer of information about people, places and activities adapted to users’ physical and social context and their history of social interactions in the city.
Abstract | Full paper (pdf, 1.5 mb, 7 pages)

Also in GAIN, you can find a lengthy interview with Michael Benedikt, who is writing a general theory of value.

10 April 2006

Senior citizens not big users of cell phones, even for emergencies

Jitterbug phone
New Jitterbug phone designed for seniors with easy use, big numbers may make difference

A new cell phone has been introduced that the distributors say is targeted for baby boomers and their senior citizen parents. The Jitterbug, they say, features "unprecedented simplicity." The announcement comes as new information from the Pew Research Center shows seniors are not frequent cell phone users, even for emergencies.

Read full story

 
30 March 2006

Improve usability for older users

Usability for the elderly
The UK now has more people aged over 60 than under 16. There are now 1.1 million people aged over 85 in the UK — and the trend toward an ageing population is common in many other western countries.

We recently analysed and compared the results of 16 usability testing sessions. Eight of these sessions were conducted with older users (i.e. over the age of 65), and the other eight were run with younger users (under the age of 40).

The 40-minute ‘talk-aloud’ sessions involved our asking participants to find information on a range of government web sites. The results of this research provided insights into the ways older users differ from their younger counterparts when it comes to using the Internet.

The main finding of our study was that older users were more likely to assign blame when using the Internet.

Read full post

(via Usability Views)

30 March 2006

Lifestyle design: a new profession

Lifestyle design
The problem: many millions of people in First World societies will live entire lifetimes without "gainful employment."

The assignment: Create a lifestyle that makes possible gainful unemployment. Build a lifestyle that will involve, express, and otherwise engage someone who will never work.

Some considerations

7 March 2006

You can’t understand the future without demographics

Futurist Andrew Zolli, founder of Z + Partners, reflects in a Fast Company feature on the future demographics of society.

The composition of a society–whether its citizens are old or young, prosperous or declining, rural or urban–shapes every aspect of civic life, from politics, economics, and culture to the kinds of products, services, and businesses that are likely to succeed or fail.

With a huge increase in the number of older consumers [in the US and Europe], entirely new entertainment, culture, and news markets will open up–film, television, books, and Internet sites pitched more to the Matlock set than to the Eminem crowd. Also, older people tend to vote more frequently, and they will wield significant political clout.

The demographic concentration of boomers at the top of the population pyramid, backed by their vast reservoirs of disposable income, represents the next American gold rush. By 2011, the 65-and-over population will be growing faster than the population as a whole in each of the 50 states. The Boomer Binge will have begun.

Read full story

28 February 2006

In California, new kind of commune for elderly [The New York Times]

Commune_elderly
They are unlikely revolutionaries. Bearing walkers and canes, a veritable Merck Manual of ailments among them, the 12 old friends — average age 80 — looked as though they should have been sitting down to a game of Scrabble, not pioneering a new kind of commune.

Opting for old age on their own terms, they were starting a new chapter in their lives as residents of Glacier Circle, the country’s first self-planned housing development for the elderly — a community they had conceived and designed themselves, right down to its purple gutters.

Over the past five years, the residents of Glacier Circle have found and bought land together, hired an architect together, ironed out insurance together, lobbied for a zoning change together and existentially probed togetherness together.

Read full story

24 February 2006

Open Health, a UK Design Council report on creating new healthcare systems

Designcouncil_openhealth
The UK Design Council published its first RED report: ‘Open Health’, following up on the paper “Health: Co-creating Services” (which was discussed here).

Chronic disease and conditions related to an unhealthy lifestyle have reached epidemic proportions and are rising still. This presents a momentous challenge for the current healthcare system.

Looking at the problem from a design perspective shows that there are many gaps in the way that current approaches relate to people’s daily lives and motivations. Designing from the individual’s point of view could provide the key to solutions that work.

Working with partners in Bolton and Kent over the six months from December 2004, the Design Council explored ways to create new healthcare systems. The design team prototyped innovative services for self-managing chronic conditions and maintaining healthier lifestyles.

These point towards a radical new model of healthcare organisation: Open Health.

Summary pageMovie (8.8 mb, 9 minutes) – Open Health report (pdf, 600 kb, 64 pages)

Kent: Activmobs (download design notes, pdf, 4.9 mb, 41 pages)
With Kent County Council the Design Council worked with some of the most inactive people, in one of the most deprived wards. They prototyped “activmobs” – a platform that supports people to get active and stay active in a way that fits with their lifestyle, interests and abilities.

Bolton: The Diabetes Agenda (download design notes, pdf, 3.6 mb, 41 pages)
In Bolton, the Design Council worked with the local NHS to improve their nationally acclaimed diabetes service. Here they developed “Agenda cards” – a simple set of cards that reframe the interaction between patients and professionals. They also prototyped a Me2 coach service – a new and powerful support role, like a life coach but for people with diabetes. These ideas represent a shift in thinking in the way designers approach the management of chronic conditions and demonstrate how design can be used to put patient centred thinking into practice.

Co-design
Co-design – the name of the design process used – works because people are the experts in their own lives. Co-design addresses health problems from the point of view of the individual, not the system. The Design Council works with people in real world contexts to develop practical solutions to their everyday health problems.

Co-creation
Co-created systems are intended to improve over time and with increased
participation from users and professionals. The Design Council believes they have the potential to provide higher quality and more durable health solutions and answer many of the problems faced by the NHS today.

12 February 2006

Aging at home: a user-centred approach to caring for the elderly [The New York Times]

Care_elderly
Beacon Hill Village is an innovative nonprofit organisation created by and for local residents determined to grow old in familiar surroundings, and to make that possible for others.

Community-based models for aging in place designed by the people who use them are the wave of the future, experts say, an alternative to nursing homes and assisted living centers run by large service providers.

“I don’t want a so-called expert determining how I should be treated or what should be available to me,” said 72-year-old Susan McWhinney-Morse, one of the founders. “The thing I most cherish here is that it’s we, the older people, who are creating our own universe.”

Read full story

15 January 2006

Rosy outlook for gadgets for elderly [BBC]

Design_elderly
The future may lie in devices that care for an aging population, used to living on their own and with money to spend.

Often the needs of an older population are at odds with the design of new gadgets.

According to usability experts, the people creating the devices do not consider how older people will react.

“Buttons are too close together or labels are hard to read,” explained Rich Buttiglieri, a usability consultant at the Design and Usability Center, Bentley College, Massachusetts.

“One of the major challenges with designers is to get them to take into account the abilities of your end user.

Read full story

11 January 2006

Digital interactive television for older people [BBC]

Digitaltv_203
The University of Dundee’s Department of Applied Computing is looking for people who accept the potential advantages of new technology but whose experience is more pain than pleasure.

It wants to explore how fear of change can be reduced by making things such as digital television much simpler to use.

One major change that most people will find difficult to avoid is the switch off of the analogue TV signal which will happen, region by region, between 2008 and 2012.

An important implication of the switch to digital was that televisions would become much more like computers. For some that would mean that using their television would become much more complicated.

The research project will begin in early 2006 and last until next year.

Read full story
Read research project summary
Read research area summary

6 January 2006

RSA website on inclusive design

Inclusive_design
Inclusive design is about ensuring that environments, products, services and interfaces work for people of all ages and abilities. Many people are interested in this, but there is no ready source of information, methods, tools and examples to help them achieve it. This website aims to plug that gap by bringing together new and existing information and making it accessible via a single user-friendly interface.

The website is aimed at design students and their tutors, professional designers, design managers and policy makers. It has been developed to introduce newcomers to key concepts, examples and design/research methods, and to support practitioners in gathering together relevant information to build up their own collection of tools and techniques.

13 December 2005

Improving the aging experience

Cast_image
The Center for Aging Services Technologies (CAST) is leading the United States’ charge to develop and deploy emerging technologies that can improve the aging experience in America.

Established in 2003, CAST has become a national coalition of more than 400 technology companies, aging services organizations, research universities, and government representatives.

According to a Mercury News article, the initiative originated from Intel Chairman Craig Barrett, [who] is using his golden years to become an evangelist for technology to help senior citizens, leading his company to a prominent role in a small but growing field tackling the needs of an aging nation.

Intel’s involvement in the field came as an outgrowth of social science research it did in the United States, South America and Europe beginning in 1999. Although it was designed to look at how people might use entertainment technology, those older than 45 in the project told researchers that their biggest needs were dealing with health care for themselves or older relatives, said Dishman, one of the researchers.

Unlike today’s elderly, many of those aging Americans are familiar with computers and cell phones, which can be embedded with sensors and other technologies to help with health care needs, Dishman said.

Some other articles today on the same topic:
High-tech improves life for seniors [CNN]
It’s gee-whiz for the golden years [Washington Post]

4 September 2005

Why technology misses the masses

Phones_afp_203
The latest MORI research into consumer technology, commissioned by European technology public relations consultancy Hotwire, has concluded that consumer technologies will not reach their full market potential until vendors can successfully engage with women and the over 45s.

According to an expert panel made up of leading industry commentators to discuss the findings, vendors must focus on product design and ease of use, and not over complicate their offerings with unnecessary features.

Read full story

(via BBC)

27 August 2005

New York Times on the experience of being a patient

Patient1841ch
My Experientia business partner Jan-Christoph Zoels alerted me to a series of New York Times articles on the isolated, frightening, overwhelming and often dehumanising experiences many patients have in hospitals, and what social, cultural and demographic changes are playing a factor in this.

Awash in information, patients face a lonely, uncertain road (14 August 2005 – Permanent link)
A generation ago, patients argued for more information, more choice and more say about treatment. To a great extent, that is exactly what they have received: a superabundance of information, often several treatment options and the right to choose among them.
As this new responsibility dawns on patients, some embrace it with a sense of pride and furious determination. But many find the job of being a modern patient, with its slog through medical uncertainty, to be lonely, frightening and overwhelming.

Patients turn to advocates, support groups and e-mail, too (14 August 2005)
Battle-hardened by the medical system, patients have become pretty good at taking care of one another. If they are not learning enough from their doctors about diagnoses and treatment options, they can turn to organisations that offer support and education programs for specific illnesses. Doctors can often make recommendations about which of these groups are reliable.

In the hospital, a degrading shift from person to patient (16 August 2005 – Permanent link)
Entering the medical system, whether a hospital, a nursing home or a clinic, is often degrading. In interviews and surveys, people who have recently received medical care say that even when they benefit from the expertise of first-rate doctors, they often feel resentful, helpless and dehumanised in the process.
“The point is that when they talk about quality of health care, patients mean something entirely different than experts do,” said Dr. Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser Foundation. “They’re not talking about numbers or outcomes but about their own human experience, which is a combination of cost, paperwork and what I’ll call the hassle factor, the impersonal nature of the care.”

Essential but uncommon knowledge: Patients have many rights. Just ask. (16 August 2005)
You can refuse treatment. You can almost always leave when you are ready to. You can demand to know the name of anyone who enters your room. You may be able to have better food – and even wine – brought in from outside. In many cases, you can ditch the hospital gown and wear your own clothes.

Sick and scared, and waiting, waiting, waiting (20 August 2005 – Permanent link)
Waiting has long been part of medicine. Patients like Ms. Odlum wait for test results; others spend weeks or months waiting for appointments or stranded for hours in doctors’ waiting rooms. But health care researchers say the waiting problem has only gotten worse. Advances in technology have created more tests and procedures to wait for, and new drugs and treatments mean more people need more doctor visits.

Alone in Illness, Seeking Steady Arm to Lean On (26 August 2005 – Permanent link)
There is no way to calculate how many Americans of all ages living alone happen to be sick or disabled, but hospital discharge planners and home health care agencies say they are serving more single people without an obvious person to look after them.

Where to Get Help in Planning for Illness (26 August 2005)
To be ill and alone requires far more advanced planning than is required of those who live with their families. It is a predicament poorly understood by health care providers, who are likely to advise hiring a home health aid or other professional.

Related: IDEO’s design cure – [Metropolis, October 2002] (pdf, 828 kb)

12 August 2005

DoCoMo designs phones for the elderly

Docomo_elderly
This month, NTT DoCoMo, Inc. will release a mobile phone able to slow down speakers’ voice speed. The key targeted users are the elderly, reveals Tech-on.

The speed converter technology slows down speakers’ voice speed up to 0.7x, so the listener can feel like that the speakers’ dialogue goes slowly. The technology does not slow down the voice part, but shortens the part without sound between phrases. When a time lag between the original voice and the converted voice exceeds one second, the function automatically stops.

DoCoMo also prepared a main menu screen exclusively designed for the handset. By reducing the number of menu items as well as using relatively large icons, screen operation became easier than before.

Other functions include a system to start an emergency alarm of about 80 dB and a pedometer.

(via Engadget | Textually.org| Regine of We Make Money Not Art)