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Re: Success criteria 1.4.4

From: Felix Miata <mrmazda@earthlink.net>
Date: Thu, 18 Aug 2011 21:27:27 -0400
Message-ID: <4E4DBBFF.4060500@earthlink.net>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Digression I suppose, but probably worth bringing up anyway.

On 2011/08/18 19:46 (GMT-0400) Roger Hudson composed:

> The question of text resize I think is very interesting. Late last year, I
> interviewed 31 web users over the age of 60. Nearly half of these people
> said they found the size of text on web pages a problem at least some of the
> time.

> When asked if they knew how to change the size of text on the page, 12
> participants (39%) indicated they could use either browser zoom tools or
> text resize. In other words, well over half had no idea what to do and some
> can up with most imaginative strategies, the most common being to copy the
> content into a word document and then increase the size with that. Also
> worth noting, most participants said they had never seen on-page text resize
> tools before and only 2 mentioned they had ever used them.

> Most information about this study is available in the slides and transcript
> of a presentation I gave at CSUN
> http://www.dingoaccess.com/accessibility/improving-web-accessibility-for-the-elderly-csun-slides-and-transcript/

Link made clickable.

It refers to 
http://www.dingoaccess.com/accessibility/mature-age-ict-users-survey-2/, from 
which I'm quoting the following:

"A significant proportion of older web users who find that the size of the 
text on a page makes it difficult to read are likely to leave the site and 
look elsewhere for the information."

"At this stage, it would be unwise for government and business to rely on the 
web (and social media in particular) as a medium of communicating to this 
section of the community."

I strongly believe the two quotes above are worth emphasizing. I live in a 
county where the average age has consistently been highest or 2nd highest in 
the state the whole time I've lived in the county, in one of the United 
States with highest average age of its population. I not infrequently 
participate in informal surveys in waiting lines, parking lots, computer 
aisles in WalMart or Best Buy, anywhere one runs into local residents more 
than briefly. Since I occasionally fix computers as an adjunct to other work, 
I get to ask survey type questions as part of the repair process as well.

Some observations:

Some just can't learn to use a touchpad, mouse or trackball adequately, or at 
all. Alternatives to them cannot be found in the local stores in which most 
non-computer users shop. A disproportionately high proportion of elderly here 
have little or no local blood kin to rely on for physical assistance. Clearly 
of this group few learned computers during formal schooling. Solutions are 
neither to be found in stock in local stores that sell computers or their 

Some look at a screen, or a row of them on a store shelf, and complain 
everything is too small, not just web page text. To many, bigger is naturally 
equated to bigger objects, just like TV, not more space for same size 
objects. There's minimal correlation between display sizes and the sizes of 
objects displayed on them. No doubt that's due to variations in pixel 
density, but it's nevertheless a shopping complication that leads to 
difficulty choosing, and buyer's remorse, or just avoiding buying (or 
adopting a freebee) at all.

Visual deterioration doesn't just manifest in a need for bigger when bigger 
means wider. As vision goes so often goes field of view, making increased 
screen (& window) width useless. The important measure of size for many is 
height. For them, the marketing switch to wide aspect screens narrowed the 
selection of worthwhile choices.

No small number find a sizing solution in Display Properties -> Settings -> 
Screen Resolution, finding legibility improvement from largeness to far 
outweigh the resulting poorer quality of images and glyphs rendered at lower 
pixel density, or distortion from using 1024x768 or 800x600 on a wide aspect 

When I show someone how to enlarge desktop or web page text size, it's not 
unusual to get an "I had no idea" type of response, to which I reply 
something like "you don't expect to be able to personalize your personal 
computer beyond changing the desktop's background picture?!?"

I think a larger sample size "seniors" survey is warranted that's directed at 
accessibility reasons why the older generations don't use the internet. I've 
yet to find any such reported.
"The wise are known for their understanding, and pleasant
words are persuasive." Proverbs 16:21 (New Living Translation)

  Team OS/2 ** Reg. Linux User #211409 ** a11y rocks!

Felix Miata  ***  http://fm.no-ip.com/
Received on Friday, 19 August 2011 01:27:32 UTC

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