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We are all novice technology users on this bus

Accessibility and usability – who knew they were different?  The term (and features) arose from the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, amended by Congress in 2008, when the focus was on reducing/eliminating discrimination against people with disabilities. Although it appeared at the time to be a good start, the amendments were produced after it was clear that the ADA did not (and still does not) fulfill the expectation of enabling individuals with disabilities to participate in all aspects of life.  However, even with the amendments, the job of making locations accessible to those with disabilities, including wheelchairs, left much to be desired, as the AXS map initiative demonstrates. Initially mapping locations in New York City -- the crowd-sourced AXS map was founded by Jason DaSilva and described in the 2013 documentary When I Walk. The crowd-sourced map continues to update accessible locations around the world. And Jason continues to tackle the boundaries and limitations for those with disabilities.

Smartphone use among older adults is growing – is usability the next hurdle?  Likely adoption by the 65+ population has far exceeded the 61% percent in the 2022 Pew survey or the most recent AARP Tech Trends survey. There is a sizable (54 million) population of adults in their 70s (many still working) and age 80+. The pressure to own a smartphone is intense, whether it is from family members for instant communication and sharing, healthcare service providers who want older adults to use tech to manage health, use Apple Pay, and even use their phone to verify access to a website. Healthcare providers help provide tech tutors to help them become comfortable. Some  health systems endorse their use – even providing a guide to helping older adult members move up the learning curve.  AARP offers tips and tricks for both iPhone and Android phones.

Accessibility beyond place – devices, apps, websites, and more.  The terms Accessibility and Usability have updated standards, presumably for the purpose of pushing vendors and web content providers along in meeting needs and making devices and user interfaces easier to understand.  Moving forward, however, AI-enabled search (as with the new Bing chat) should help us find information that we need. So far it is impressive. Note multiple videos on accessibility features when asked. Perhaps informing us about these features (which vary from version to version of software) will be less painful for the novice user. Familiarizing oneself with new features is a full-time job for those who work in tech support (phone, in-person, in-store).  Novice users who might benefit from new security keys or Pay Later features will need an intermediary to help them become familiar with how the new features work.

We are all novice users when the next release comes out. Feature creep continues to make devices capable of more actions but less usable for many.  Why does Apple need a Pay Later feature for a purchased device when the user’s credit card allows pay over time?  Why is 2-factor authentication even needed in so many industries when hackers can already outsmart it? The decision-making process to add features to device interfaces must be a committee process, perhaps arbitrated by the most senior person in the room. Isn't it great that Microsoft has figured out how to embed Bing’s AI into Office 365 products. Why on earth?  Because 100 million people downloaded ChatGPT – so it must be a good idea. 

[Have you seen the 2023 update to Technology for Aging Market Overview?]

 

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