|M.Sc Student||Klimer Oded|
|Subject||Graphical Representations and their Accessibility to Elderly|
|Department||Department of Architecture and Town Planning||Supervisor||Professor Ron Nabarro|
|Full Thesis text - in Hebrew|
The percentage of people aged 65 and above (elderly people) is anticipated to be 22% of the total population by the year 2030.
The aim of this research was to try and understand how we can implement the “Design for All” / “Inclusive Design” approach when designing graphical representations, and in particular, icons to be comprehensible and useful for elderly people; because in the products designed today, icons serve as an important link in the communication between the user and the product.
Contrary to common belief, the young population is relatively homogenous, whereas the elderly population is rather heterogonous. The elderly population suffers from different physical deteriorations as well as cognitive ones; as a result, when planning a product for elderly use, many issues need to be taken into consideration.
In order to check the accessibility of icons to elderly users in a manner that will eliminate previous knowledge and experience transfers, we have chosen to perform the experiment in a familiar domain but in an application that is new to all users. Specifically, the experiment was conducted on icons used for video conversations, since this form of conversation is anticipated to be wide-spread in the near future, and thus will need to be accessible to all parts of the population.
Our basic assumption was that young people will be able to compensate for knowledge and understanding gaps better and with more ease than elderly people. As a result, the primary aim/criterion should be directed at elderly users first: i.e., to have graphical representations that are highly accessible to elderly users, with the assumption that if the elderly comprehend them then young people will comprehend them as well (but not vice-versa).
The results of the test clearly show that it is possible to use icons as a bridge between different age groups, as long as the icons are created for the elderly population.
Another result was that not only did the icons created for the elderly population not impair the use by the young population, but rather that they actually improved performance for both groups.
Although the experiment examined icons intended for use in video phones, the implications of the research are wide-spread and can be adopted on all appliances that use icons and are intended for use by “all users”, such as: microwave ovens, DVD players, information kiosks, etc.