Focus on elderly users
Every now and then, someone who tries to replace the complicated and perhaps a bit dry word ”accessibility” with something sexier, in order to increase interest and reach out to new groups.
Susanna LaurinTitle: Chief Research and Innovation Officer
One of many ideas on that theme has been to focus on elderly users. It is quite logical: we live longer and many are very active after retirement. Elderly are generally seen as quite a wealthy target group and today's retired use digital services to a greater extent than before. If we could call accessibility "UX for seniors" or something similar, we might reach better impact?
Maybe. Broadening the potential target group gives a larger potential market, which we can easily agree about. But even though many elderly have a disability and many disabled people are elderly, there is a risk of viewing them as one group; Children, young people and middle-aged people with disabilities may indeed have the same physical needs as elderly, but at the same time completely different wishes. The solutions can also differ - or be the same. It sort of depends.
Standardization and inclusion
So far, the elderly and the accessibility perspectives are tseen as wo parallel tracks that occasionally cross each other. Not least in standardization, where there are currently several exciting initiatives. Funka has a strong position within what is called Active and Healthy Aging, or AHA in EU languages, as we lead and coordinate the European Innovation Partnership EIPonAHA since 2015. To contribute knowledge about accessibility in this context feels increasingly important.
I recently had the privilege of lecturing at a Joint Intergroup Meeting in the EU Parliament, where we discussed, among other things, the need to involve the elderly in the development of smart solutions. The EU-funded research project Mobile AGE presented interesting results of what is called co-creation, another buzzword in the EU right now. Co-creation can sound a little exuberant, but the concept that, based on the users' needs, can never be wrong. Together with older residents of Bremen (Germany), South Lakeland (England), Zaragoza (Spain) and Central Macedonia, the project has developed public data based on open data. Social issues, the possibility to stay at home longer, increased accessibility in the outdoor environment and health-related information were some of the subject areas the target groups chose to focus on. Pleasingly, both parliamentarians and commissioners were positive and engaged in the debate. The elderly question is likely to remain in focus.
Progressive is another exciting project, which has developed a framework for inclusion of older users in standardization. At the closing conference where I lectured, many good ideas were presented. Most people agree that standards are needed to create age-friendly interfaces. But exactly what that means, no one wants to describe. Personally, I notice the very big differences between Northern and Southern Europe in the view of where the boundary goes for who is considered "elderly" and what needs this (very heterogeneous) target group is expected to have. In the debate, I tried to provoke by questioning the need for more elderly people in standardization. Obviously, it is important to have the target group, but as I see it we have a bigger problem: a lack of younger people who want to work as technial experts. The participants at the conference looked, just like all standardization committees I participate in, to have quite a high average age.
Experience, of course, weighs heavily, but I also believe in diversity in terms of age, just as we would like to see experts with different backgrounds and abilities.
Related chronicles by Susanna Laurin
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14 August 2018
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5 December 2017
The International Day of Disabled Persons keeps us busy in all our markets. This year we contribute to the Inclusion Days program in Berlin, Germany.
8 November 2017
A judicial precedent now allows for a tighter interpretation of the Swedish law on support and services for certain disabled people. This may mean that many people lose their right to personal assistance. Do we really want people to be denied a worthy life on equal terms with others?
12 June 2017
As the sun glistens in the ocean, the birds wake me up in the early mornings and life gets a little easier once sunshine and warm weather turn our latitudes into paradise, a report on digitization makes me even more happy.
6 March 2017
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7 February 2017
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6 January 2017
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8 December 2016
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4 July 2016
Funka’s Susanna Laurin is reporting on an exciting meeting of experts from all over the world, at the US Access Board in Washington.
17 June 2016
The French association for the visually impaired, BrailleNet, arrange an annual conference on digital accessibility. The theme for the 2016 edition was the internet of things. Funka’s own Susanna Laurin is reporting from the conference.
10 March 2016
An unsettling trend is happening in the U.S.: by using legislation as a battering ram lawyers are making money, but inaccessibility persist.
30 November 2015
Susanna Laurin's reflections on the situation for people with disabilities face in the world today.
11 September 2015
Funka’s CEO Susanna Laurin reflects on cultural differences between Spain and Sweden, personal integrity and how badly things can get, even when you try your hardest to do the right thing.
18 June 2015
Funka’s Susanna Laurin considers trends in accessibility and the fact that we no longer have much time to reflect.
18 March 2015
Different safety and technology aspects are being brought up as arguments against e-voting, but these problems must be possible to overcome. Funka's Susanna Laurin takes some time to reflect upon the democratic perspective of e-voting and today's broad lack of accessibility.
29 October 2014
Funka’s Susanna Laurin questions why accessibility and user experience experts are so eager to talk to people with similar opinions. Would it not be better to let different views and opinions meet to bring about change?
19 June 2014
We look back at a hectic period and look forward to even more work. But first of all, we will enjoy the summer holidays.
25 February 2014
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20 December 2013
Susanna Laurin, Funka, sums up a busy year. A year of continued growth, continued expansion in Norway and a new office in Madrid.
25 October 2013
It is leaning towards legislation on web accessibility in the EU. Funka's Susanna Laurin takes a closer look at what the guidelines that almost everyone is pointing towards actually entail for the users.