The Journal of Emerging Trends in Computing and Information Sciences recently published an article exploring the problems that older adults have accessing web-pages. Older adults often encounter barriers to accessing the web due to disabilities like vision impairments, hearing impairments, and motor impairments. Older adults are also more likely to be unfamiliar with the standard conventions that govern how to navigate through a web-page. Simple and intuitive web design as well as guides and tutorials can help older adults learn how to access a website’s features. The paper also analyzes how well Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo mail fair in relation to WAI AGE guidelines (Web Accessibility Guidelines for older adults by W3C) and heuristics evaluation based on AARP’s web heuristics for older adults. For instance, the report investigated the following issues that can impact an older user’s experience of a website:
- Are command and action items presented as buttons? (AARP)
- Do button and link labels start with action words? (AARP)
- Are clickable items highlighted differently from other nonclickable highlighted items? (AARP)
- Do graphic buttons avoid symbols that will be unfamiliar to older adults who have low computer and Web expertise? (AARP)
- Is there a visible change (other than the cursor changing) when the user “points” to something clickable with his or her mouse? (AARP)
- Is link treatment the same from section to section within the site? (AARP)
- Is a text size adjustment link provided? (WAI-AGE)
All of the email platforms demonstrated room for improvement in making their websites intuitive and easy-to-use for older adults.
Read study: Ilyas, M. (2012). A Study of Web Accessibility Barriers for Older AIlyas, M. (2012). A study of web accessibility barriers for older adults, and heuristics evaluation of email websites based on web accessibility heuristics for older adults by AARP. Journal of Emerging Trends in Computing and Information Sciences, 3(5), 806-813.