Becker, Shirley Ann. "A Study of Web usability for Older Adults Seeking Online Health Resources." ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI), (2004): 387-406 ACM Digital Library. UNC-CH Lib., Chapel Hill. 12 Apr.. 2006

Shirley Becker explores the causes that help to undermine the accessibility for elderly users of websites, and specifically focuses on health-related websites. The first couple of pages detail some of the specific obstacles including vision, cognition, motor skills, and differing levels of literacy. This last issue is probably specific to websites dealing with special areas of content, and the article mentions that text (at least in this context) should be written at a seventh-grade level or lower. Some studies mentioned in the article take this a step further by asserting that literacy levels decrease as people age. A usability study was conducted using 125 health websites and the guidelines established by the NIM and NLM (see earlier bibliographic entry for more details). The results were discouraging. The study also included an assessment of the sites' abilities to have their text sizes altered. Again, the results were discouraging. The article also pans pull-down menus, smaller than 12 pt font sizes, lack of sitemaps, lack of "contact us" links, and a few other issues. The article also touches on pages that are slow to download, a problem for elderly users who are still reliant on dial-up modems. Basically, this study set out to prove whether the NIA/NLM guidelines established in 2002 were being used, and it turns out that they are underused. This article is useful in that it examines those guidelines from the vantage point of an elderly user. back to top

Greger, Peter et. al. "Designing for Dynamic Diversity: interfaces for older people." Proceedings of the Fifth International ACM conference on Assistive Technologies, (2002): 151-156. ACM Digital Library. UNC-CH Lib., Chapel Hill. 12 Apr. 2006

The authors of this article have taken a different approach to making the web accessible for elderly users. Instead of designing individual websites to cater to the needs of these users, the authors make the case for the creation of a senior-friendly web browser. This web browser would have a tool bar at the top which would allow users to easily adjust various settings, an audio aide, a large-text banner area where all information could be displayed, and a finally a section where the web page would be displayed as if it were in Internet Explorer or Firefox. This browser was first tested on a group of 280 elderly users, but 84% of the users couldn't initialize any sort of web activity. The researchers then tried adding Voice Help, a program that gave audio instructions for basic web tasks. This increased the success rate among users who were mentally fit, but helped to confused some of the older senior citizens (average age in this second group was 84) because the audio instructions were too lengthy. This article brings a different approach to web usability that I will try to incorporate in my discussions of other topics such as font, color, background, and navigation. back to top

Hanson, Vicki L. "The User Experience: Designs and adaptations." Proceedings of the 2004 international cross-disciplinary workshop on Web accessibility (W4A), (2004): 1-11 ACM Digital Library. UNC-CH Lib., Chapel Hill. 12 Apr. 2006

The primary focus of this article is to present solutions for obstacles that people with disabilities face when using the web. However, many of the examples mentioned in this article are of elderly users and the obstacles that elderly users typically encounter. This article specifically discusses a software program called Web Adaption Technology which allows users to easily change font and size setting as well as spacing issues and text/background colors and contrast. The article also warns against the pitfalls involved when trying to embed text into images. This makes the text size fixed and unchangeable by software programs such as Web Adaption Technology. At the very least, designers must include the "alt" tag with images. The same is true for graphical buttons. Sometimes designers will use a graphical "click here" button, and the text on these types of buttons is also fixed. The article goes on to mention animations, background images, and icon sizes as well. This article provides a third model for web usability. Instead of relying on individual web designers to design their pages for universal usage, and instead of programming an entirely new browser with visual and audio controls bundled in, this article proposes using software to enable mainstream browsers to adapt websites to make them accessible and usable by those with disabilities.back to top

Hanson, Vicki L. "Web Access for Elderly Citizens." Proceedings of the 2001 EC/NSF Workshop on Universal Accessibility of Ubiquitous Computing: Providing for the Elderly, (2001): 14-18. ACM Digital Library. UNC-CH Lib., Chapel Hill. 15 Mar. 2006

This article discusses some of the major obstacles that senior citizens may have when viewing web pages. According to this article, these obstacles include vision, dexterity, cognition, and hearing. Hanson then gives three categories for solutions: hardware solutions, user software solutions, and web author solutions. However, the solutions discussed have shortcomings because they tend to isolate and address one specific cause of an obstacle rather than addressing multiple causes for said obstacle. Though this article was written in 2001, the discussion given about these obstacles and some of the solutions for such users are still valid. Hanson then nakes her case for server-side adaptions to increase accessibility. She discusses a study conducted using targeted users in order to figure out which solutions work best. The senior citizens were given tools to use in order to alter the sites they were asked to use. These tools included font-size changes, background changes, and spacing changes. The seniors who participated appreciated having control over these layout elements, though many did not consider themselves to be disabled before taking part in this study. In the end, the participants only needed to make minor modifications in order to successfully use the webpages in the study.back to top

Hilt, Michael L. and Jeremy Lipschultz. "Elderly Americans and the Internet: Email, TV News, Information and Entertainment Websites." Educational Gerontology 30.1 (2004): 57-72. Academic Search Premier. UNC-CH Lib., Chapel Hill. 15 Apr. 2006

Hilt and Lipschultz chronicled the internet usage of elderly people ranging in age from 55 to 84. These users had taken the initiative to learn how to use email and navigate to websites before the study was conducted. The participants were all motivated, for one reason or another, to learn how to use a computer and to learn to use Email. Because of this, the participants in this group were somewhat self-selecting and thus do not represent a random cross-section of the elderly population. These users were all able to use the internet with at least some degree of success, though one user did mention that she had a hard time typing in the URLs for websites she heard about on TV. This article has been included in this project because it gives useful information about the different types of websites that elderly users, who are able to get connected, tend to frequent.back to top

Kurniawan, Sri and Panayiotis Zaphiris. "Research-derived web design guidelines for older people." Proceedings of the 7th international ACM SIGACCESS conference on Computers and accessibility Assets '05 (2005): 129-135. ACM Digital Library. UNC-CH Lib., Chapel Hill. 13 Mar. 2006

Kurniawan and Panayiotis focus on the visual impairments that older people suffer which hinder their abilty to use the web. This article details the empirical research done in the United Kingdom to set up guidelines for web design for older people. The researchers conducted several focus groups ending with a focus group consisting of the targeted users. The first major focus group helped to narrow down potential guidelines (from 52 to 38) that had been gathered from various guidelines and policies that had previously been published with respect to accessible web design by grouping them into eleven different categories. The targeted-user focus group, which consisted of elderly internet users, then rated the importance of those guidelines which had been further refined by researchers. This study is significant in that it helped to create a "wish list" for older web surfers. The participants were given a set of 38 guidelines ranging from text size to background color, and they were then asked to assign a certain score to each guideline based on the level of importance to which they attributed said guidelines. In the end, several of the participants then listed their own guideline recommendations. This study is important to the project because it gave elderly users a change to provide their own recommendations on how to increase accessiblity for this age group.back to top

Making Your Website Senior Friendly. Rev. 2002. National Institute on Aging, National Library of Medicine. 10 Mar. 2006

This short article gives a realistic checklist that web designers can use when designing websites intended to be viewed primarily by older people. While this article itself is not the result of a single empirical study, it gathers vital information from empirical research that has been done in this area. The recommendations given must be balanced with their effects on overall web design principles such as minimizing scrolling and issues with white space, but if the intended audience is elderly, then the advantages of implementing these recommendations outweigh the negative impact on the overall design of the site. The National Institute on Aging and the National Library of Medicine have provided this checklist as well as a link to a government website that has been designed using many of these principles. Some of the guidelines include color choice and contrast, test size, link-button size, and general ease of navigation. In addition, the checklist recommends using sans-serif fonts only. For my project, this checklist of good web-design priciples provides information that should augment what has been said elsewhere in this annotated bibliography. It should be noted that the checklist is intended to help designers create webpages for older users who have visual, cognitive, and motor skills impairments.back to top

Milne, Scott et al (2005). "Are guidelines enough? An introduction to designing Web sites accessible to older people." IBM Systems Journal 44.3 (2005): 557-571. Academic Search Premier. UNC-CH Lib., Chapel Hill. 16 Mar. 2006

This article details some of the barriers that senior citizens typically encounter when attempting to surf the web including visual impairments and motor-reflex skills. The article also discusses the factor of unfamiliarity with the web and its accepted conventions. In addition, this article gives some history on the development of HTML and CSS as a means of explaining some of the difficulties in designing websites for all potential users, rather than for a subset of users. The article details the development of many of the currently accepted web design principles. In addition, the authors mention a study called the Utopia project in which some of them have conducted survey-based research which indicates that much of the text and links that appear on websites is just too small for older people to read comfortably. This research makes note of the lower motor-reflex skills of the elderly and the difficulties this presents when trying to navigate through the internet. As part of this project, I intend to study how website navigation can be improved so that elderly users who are not easily able to maneuver a mouse can still navigate to their desired webpages. Much of the other assertions made about including users in the design process and anticipating even minor disablities are insightful and useful.back to top