1. Older People
- I recently came across Eldy, (Seniors Computer Software for Elderly) a piece of free software that turns a standard PC into an easy-to-use computer for people that have never used a computer before (one user described it as the “Fisher Price Internet”). It provides a six buttons interface with email, internet, chat, videoconferencing, documents, pictures, skype and more.
- Angela Rippon told the Daily Telegraph that former BBC director-general John Birt had suggested her career was over when she became 50. Rippon is adamant Birt would not have treated her male counterparts in a similar fashion.
- A reportby David Sinclair of ILC-UK, for Age UK, considers the market potential of the older consumer and highlights how companies can make more of this population. It notes that Older people’s spending reached an estimated £97 billion in 2008 (65 plus)‚ around 15% of the overall household expenditure. Those aged 50 or over spent £276 billion in 2008‚ making up around 44% of the total family spending in the UK.Yet despite the size of the market, this report finds that for many, the private sector does not meet their needs. This is not just a story of poverty or a lack of income to buy products, but of a consumer marketplace which frequently fails to meet the needs of an ageing population. People of all income levels are consumers. For the poorest consumer, they often find that they pay more and get less back in return.Some older people are well served by the market. And in some cases older people get fantastic service from the private sector. Yet there are significant issues facing the older consumer. Many of the issues highlighted below have been documented in literature as far back as the 1960s. David argues that some of the failings outlined in this report are indicative of market failure.
- Disability Now reports on how two English councils were forced to abandon plans to charge for Blue Badge parking, following threats of action under equality legislation.
- The European Union has formally concluded the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, becoming the first intergovernmental group to sign any human rights treaty. The UK has already ratified the Convention, find more information here.
- The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published guides for public authorities on the new public sector equality duty under the Equality Act 2010, which comes into force on 6 April 2011. They are available here.
- An article in the Guardian asks the question: ‘Will GP commissioners embrace telehealth?’
- A new report from the NHS Confederation argues that an over-reliance on treatment delivered through face-to-face contact means the NHS ‘risks being stuck in the technological dark ages’. It notes that people increasingly expect to be able to manage parts of their healthcare remotely using modern communication technologies:
‘Progress has been made but health services have still struggled with new technologies as a combination of top down initiatives and a lack of engagement from clinicians and patients has meant new technologies such as telemedicine and telecare have failed to truly take off. In the future, government needs to support uptake of health technology in a sustained and systematic way without resorting to an overly prescriptive, centralised plan. Despite the huge funding pressures, NHS organisations should continue to make the case for new technologies as they will form the backbone for how we access many public services in the future. The key will be to address the cultural barriers that stop the uptake of new technologies’.
The report called ‘Remote control: The patient-practitioner relationship in a digital age’, is available here.
4. Digital Participation
- Two new internet champions have been crowned in a BT-backed initiative to show millions of people over 65 the benefits of using the web. Margaret Goodwin, 64, from Henley-on-Thames and David Howe, 70, from Devon, were announced Age UK internet champions for 2011 at London’s BT Tower.
More information: www.bt.com/getittogether
- A survey by the Pew Research Center found that 2% of US adults – six million people – have a disability that makes it difficult or impossible for them to use the internet. 54% of US adults with a disability (around 45 million people) reporting themselves as going online, compared with 81% of non-disabled adults.
The quality of internet speed and access were also shown to vary according to a person’s disability profile. “People living with disability, once they are online, are also less likely than other internet users to have high-speed access or wireless access. For example, 41% of adults living with a disability have broadband at home, compared with 69% of those without a disability”.
- The Fix the Web project, which launched in November, already helped to solve problems with 26 sites using volunteers to contact website owners on behalf of disabled internet users who encounter access problems.
Users contact Fix the Web with complaints through the Fix the Web site, email, Twitter or a new toolbar, developed by the University of Southampton ( http://bit.ly/exuzAc ), and the volunteers then take up the complaints on their behalf, allowing people to report any problems.
Companies that have resolved issues flagged up by Fix the Web include several BBC sites, with work on tagging of images and resizing of text, the Coventry Building Society’s online banking services and Doodle (an online scheduling service), which is currently making its site more accessible to screen-readers.
- The disability charity Scope has launched Meeting Point, an online forum for young disabled people.
- ACOD’s Laura Muir brought to my attention: Being Human: Human-Computer Interaction in the Year 2020.
This report looks at the ramifications of the digital future and the ways in which society must adjust to the technological changes to come; saying:
‘Computer technologies are not neutral – they are laden with human, cultural and social values. We need to define a new agenda for human-computer interaction in the 21st century – one that anticipates and shapes the impact of technology rather than simply reacts to it.’
- The Office for Disability Issues (ODI) Accessible Media Player promises to offer “an inclusive online experience for disabled and non-disabled users, whether watching video or listening to a podcast. The player, which has been tested with people with a range of impairments, works particularly well for people with learning disabilities. It is the first online media player to pass the RNIB Surf Right accessibility audit and is available free to any government department or voluntary sector organisation.” Full details here.
- Significan’t has introduced a real time captioning service called WebCapTel in which operators transcribe speech into text using voice recognition software and display it on the screens of desktop and mobile devices. A report on the service in Ability Magazine is here and there is more about WebCapTel and other SignVideo services from Significan’t here.
6. Disability – attitudes
The ODI has published a report: ‘Public perceptions of disabled people’ – which looks at attitudes towards disabled people, and how attitudes have changed between 2005 and 2009.
- Attitudes towards disabled people have improved since 2005; for example a smaller proportion of people said that they thought of disabled people as getting in the way (7% compared with 9% in 2005) or with discomfort and awkwardness (17% compared with 22% in 2005). People were also more likely to think of disabled people as the same as everybody else (85% compared with 77% in 2005).
- There is, however, belief that prejudice towards disabled people is widespread. Almost 8 out of 10 respondents felt that there is either a lot or a little prejudice towards disabled people.
- Whilst few people reported openly negative views, many respondents expressed views that suggest they see disabled people as less capable than non-disabled people. Respondents were least comfortable with people with learning disabilities or mental health conditions in situations where disabled people were in positions of authority, such as being a Member of Parliament or a boss at work. These scenarios were also amongst those that respondents found least comfortable in respect of people with physical or sensory impairments.
- Nearly four in ten people thought of disabled people as less productive than non-disabled people and three quarters of people thought of disabled people as needing to be cared for some or most of the time. This suggests that a degree of ‘benevolent prejudice’ exists towards disabled people.
- Almost 8 out of 10 people thought that most people would feel very or fairly uncomfortable if someone said something negative about disabled people either in the local shops, with their close friends or at work in front of their boss or colleagues.
- There is no clear relationship between age and prejudice. In general it was people in the youngest (18 to 24) and oldest (65+) age groups who were least likely to be comfortable in interacting with disabled people.
7. Extended Feature – Excellent piece on web habits of 55-75 age group from Brand Republic
(Published at: http://bit.ly/hGvEXw – or below, but without the graphs)
Generation 62.0: Digital planning for an aging population
Richard Morris, brandrepublic.com, 31 January 2011
Older people aren’t just going online to check their bank accounts; they’re also getting social and playing games, writes Richard Morris, deputy managing director at Carat.
This article looks into an under researched demographic – 55-74 year olds – to uncover what they think of the internet, how they use it and what this means for advertising. The data is provided by Carat’s Consumer Connection System (CCS), giving in depth and media actionable lifestyle, attitudinal and demographic insight.
Who are we looking at and how often do they access the internet?
- 55-75 year olds make up 28% of the total UK population, which translates to 12,868,000 people
- Of those, three quarters of 55-64 year olds and 55% of 65-75 year olds use the internet at least occasionally (5,306 million and 3,158 million users respectively)
- Interestingly, although over half of the 55-75 age group are light users (under 15 hours per week,) a quarter can be considered to be ‘heavy users’ (30+ hours a week) and 45% medium users (15-30 hours per week).
- 83% of 55-64s and 61% of 65-75s access the internet at least once a week on their home PC or laptop.
What are they doing online?
Regular online activities, at first glance, appear relatively functional – fitting in with established research into this age group’s internet usage.
They aim to make life easier for themselves, with personal banking and emails being one of the most frequent activities, undertaken at least once a week, while 38% look for the best products by using online reviews, and the same amount look to get them as cheaply as possible with price comparison sites.
What may come as a surprise, however, is that CCS suggests a third of this group access social networks.
Forty seven percent use either Skype or instant messenger services to communicate, and a quarter stream films/TV at least 2-3 times a month.
In addition, just over a fifth enter competitions at least once a week, and almost two fifths use the internet to access the news online rather than watching it on the television.
Furthermore, we can look at affinity (how more or less likely a group are to behave in a certain way compared to others – in this case 55-75’s compared to the overall UK population, expressed via indexes) when exploring consumer behaviours, enabling the planner to make crucial distinctions between age groups.
The sites which have the greatest affinity vary slightly with age; respondents in the 55-64 group are more likely to look at holiday sites such as Expedia compared to the 65-75s. Within both groups informative sites such as Ask, directgov.co.uk and the Microsoft site have fairly strong indexes, as well as newspaper websites such as the Telegraph and the Readers Digest.
Social networking has become an increasingly large part of people’s day-to-day lives and it’s no different for the older generation, although not quite as frequent as the younger groups.
The membership among Facebook is highest, although the greatest affinity lies with the more matured ‘FriendsReunited’, which has an index of 118 and 78 with the 55-64 and 65-75 age groups respectively.
However 30% of 55-75 year olds visit Facebook at least once a month (9% check it daily) while usership within FriendsReunited is considerably less, with only 15% checking it once a month and only 0.5% checking it daily.
We can also examine the most common activities on social networking sites. These include a third reading updates from friends, 30% posting/sending messages and a further 30% looking at content others have uploaded.
Nineteen percent comment on others statuses, 16% play games and 15% chat on instant messenger services on the sites.
Again, a pattern of expected behaviours as well as perhaps some slightly unexpected ones are emerging.
These age groups are not merely part of the social media revolution – they are active participants within it.
Attitudes to the internet
Looking deeper into what is important to these groups when it comes to the internet, it becomes apparent that attitudes in general do not shift much between the 55-65 and 65-75 age groups.
There are, however, some differences to be found.
Sixty two percent of 55-64s and 57% of 65-75s agree that they look to the internet first for research on expensive items.
Sixty percent and 52% respectively even say that the internet is the first place they look for information, while 42% of both groups are concerned about privacy on social networking sites.
A third say email is an important part of their social life. Forty percent and 31% respectively agree that they don’t know what they’d do without the internet, and 46% and 48% agree that they spend the majority of their time on just a small number of sites.
The 55-64 group are more likely to share sites they find interesting (35% agree compared to 25% in the 65-75’s), 38% say that gaming is for all people not just for children compared to 21% of 65-75s, and 42% say they generally tell the truth on their social networking site compared to only 29% of 65-75s.
The data indicates that, as people get older, the usefulness of the internet diminishes as their priorities shift.
They do not avoid it necessarily because of a lack of understanding or an unwillingness to adopt new technology, more that the function it serves becomes less relevant to them.
While they continue to reap the benefits of being able to more easily manage their utilities/finances, gain access to the news and research/buy products, the aspects that have become increasingly relevant to the younger generation of internet users, of course, are simply no longer relevant.
Such insights can have profound implications for communicating with this audience, enabling us to truly optimise the online experience.
For example, Facebook has clearly broken free from its stereotyped past and the information gleaned from CCS on membership, and even usage, now enables planners to fully utilise its possibilities.
Furthermore, it is clear that traditional papers and TV are now not the only way to target older members of society, encouraging us to add a further layer to our communications as heavy usage of digital editions of papers and VoD becomes increasingly common among this group.
Importantly, the insight that more than a quarter of this group share with friends the websites they find interesting indicates the exciting possibilities of what could be achieved with an effective digital campaign targeting this segment.
In an age where media usage is increasingly fragmenting and becoming ever more digitalised, it is clear that the older generations are not being left behind.
Richard Morris, deputy managing director, Carat