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Title: Improving computer interaction for older adults
Author: Hollinworth, Nic D. P.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2741 1598
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2012
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Many older people are at a disadvantage with computers, having difficulties with traditional point and click interaction because of age-related changes in perception, cognition and motor control. Generational differences also mean that older people may not understand technologies as well as younger people. Despite attempts to improve access to computers, much of this has focused on perceptual changes (such as visual declines) and changes in motor control; generational differences (i.e. differences in the understanding of technologies between people of different age groups) and changes in cognition (such as cognitive slowing) have largely been ignored by system designers. The goal of this thesis is to investigate techniques that can help to improve computer interaction for older adults, and begins with a study that examines some of the difficulties encountered using common computer applications such as email, web browsing and using a wordprocessor. Losing the mouse cursor is also a common problem, so an experiment was undertaken to test a novel technique to help with finding a lost cursor. A common difficulty for many older computer users is using the file system on a computer, and so this was investigated by first considering how people manipulated paper documents and folders. The results were used in the development of an interface that mimics the way in which paper-based files and folders operate in the real world. The final study investigated whether an interface based on familiar objects can help older adults more easily learn and remember how to use a computer application, and results suggest that familiar interfaces can help to simplify tasks, encourage experimentation, increase confidence and retain more of what they have learned. Directions for future research are discussed, in light of some of the current chal- lenges in human computer interaction. In particular, applications need to be designed to be more appealing to older computer users, in addition to being both accessible and usable, and there may also be potentjal to improve the performance of target selection through visual illusions. A further direction is the development of a methodology for reliably assessing computer proficiency for older adults.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available