Author: Cheryl Lewis posted in Aging on 18 June 2012, 22:14
Computers are a powerful tool. They provide new opportunities for aging in place, caregiving and preserving... </span>
communication, independence, and learning opportunities for seniors, the disabled, and computer novices.
However, these opportunities are only available if users are able and willing to access computer technology. Recent articles and research in the professional literature (Czaja, 2005; Van de Watering, 2005; Werner and Werner, 2012) conclude that the effective adoption of computer technology by seniors is accomplished not only by (1) an interface design tailored to their needs and abilities, but also by (2) effective training and instructional support.
Here at Telikin, we strive to provide user friendly features that eliminate physical barriers to computer use. Touch screen capability is important for those who have difficulty using a mouse and keyboard, especially those with a physical condition such as Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, or arthritis, which are common for seniors. For those with low vision conditions such as macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma, easy to read screens with large buttons and fonts, as well as the ability to enlarge text size in e-mails, documents, and web sites are all very valuable. A highly structured and easily navigable user interface with feature buttons that are always visible is a far more intuitive alternative for senior computer users than traditional computers. Built-in video chat provides an additional form of communication for users with verbal communication difficulties, as well as useful feedback for caregivers who can informally assess the user’s state of overall wellbeing.
While developing the Telikin senior computer, we also realized the need to supply inexperienced computer users with a general frame of reference—what a computer can do for them—as well as specific, “how to” information about computer operation. Users have access to a number of different instructional support options: built-in screens with text help and video tutorials that are context specific to the screen; a printed, hard copy Start Up Guide and User’s Manual; telephone support from our dedicated, U.S. based Customer Support Team; and remote access support from trusted friends and family members.
Facilitating the adoption of computers by seniors is paramount as the aging population continues to grow and technology becomes ubiquitous in everyday life. Improving computer accessibility and providing effective computer education and support are instrumental in preventing seniors from being left behind in an increasingly technological world.
by Cheryl Lewis, M.Ed.
About the author
Cheryl M. Lewis‚ M.Ed.‚ has over 20 years experience assessing and working with special needs populations. In her capacity as a school psychologist‚ Ms. Lewis provided assessment‚ case management‚ consulting‚ and education program monitoring services to special needs students in the human services‚ mental health‚ and corrections systems. Prior to joining Venture 3 Systems‚ Ms. Lewis applied her experience with special needs individuals and education/social service providers to the computer software industry‚ as a sales and support services representative for computer and web-based special education management software programs. She now holds the position of Director of Sales at Telikin.