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Review of Literature Relating to Web Accessibility and Ageing

From: David Woolley <forums@david-woolley.me.uk>
Date: Thu, 24 Jul 2008 08:46:40 +0100
Message-ID: <48883360.20205@david-woolley.me.uk>
To: wai-eo-editors@w3.org

Some more observations.

The survey of usability issues is biassed towards Western European 
languages, or even English.  E.g. when people conclude that left 
justification is best, would they actually come to the same conclusion 
for Hebrew, and Arabic scripts, or for traditional Chinese or Japanese 
(top justified - which needs CSS3).  (Centre justifying is one of those 
bits of perceived design wisdom, probably originating from a desire tobe 
different.)

Minimum fonts sizes are also likely to be language sensitive.  Chinese 
fonts require larger font sizes to be able to separate them into 
strokes, but it might be the case that older, experienced, readers have 
no problem in recognizing them even though the strokes blur into each other.

On a different tack, I think it would be useful to find a survey of 
existing sites aimed at the older user.  Whilst specifically targetted 
sites go against the princicple of universal access, they are more 
commercially acceptable, may demonstrate revenue streams that mainstream 
sites have overlooked, and may act as a stepping stone in the learning 
process.  (Note that assistive technology sites are aimed at guilty 
younger family members, and an interaction I had with the operator of 
the RAF Association site, also indicated it was really intended to be 
used by people one or two generations younger than the people it was about.)

An article I came across recently, that did have some coverage of 
targetted sitse was: 
<http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F05EEDF1530F936A15750C0A9629C8B63>.

Another thing to look into is coping strategies for mainstream sites. 
As "middle aged" user, with a software engineering background, I'm 
prepared to use browser accessibility features, but I would be reluctant 
to set many of them for my mother or even tell her about them, because 
of the number of sites that break badly when used with a non-out of the 
box configuration, e.g. overriding Firefox's minimum font size often 
causes text overlap, even on major sites.

-- 
David Woolley
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Received on Thursday, 24 July 2008 07:45:39 GMT

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