Second is the use of computers especially internet is growing at an increasing speed. Percentage of posted websites increased in a time period of 3 years, between 93-96 by 6500 fold while US population using internet increased 6 fold in 5 years time (1995-1999) A study by Nielson, J showed Seniors (65+) used internet for e-mail use, for research, news, tracking investments, research medicine and medical conditions, to shop and bank online, and read about hobbies. They can also benefit from online study courses. But the problem here is, this generation of elderly people spent most of their time when computers did not exist. So they face accessibility problems either due to lack of education or poor income. Another factor is aging factor which brings physical, mental and cognitive impairment. Study in 1999, by US department of Commerce showed the digital divide between information rich group (Whites, Asians/Pacific Islanders, those with higher incomes, more educated and dual parental house holds) and information poor group (younger, those with lower income and education levels, certain minorities, those in rural areas and central cities) is also increasing.2AARP study income and education are more important in determining universal accessibility than age. Any step taken to tackle this will help elderly people also.Shneiderman advocates three steps for attaining universal usability-'providing for technology variety, user diversity, and gaps in knowledge' which also accommodates the elderly problems. Elderly are fixed income groups requiring support for older hardware and software. Their predisposition to physical and cognitive impairment bringsforth another innovative issue in interface designs to meet their diverse needs. Finally having not been exposed to computers in schools or on the job, the elderly are likely to be novice users who need more guidance and training. So the computer designers should be sensitive to the need for backward compatibility with older versions. Online services should design for lower bandwidth connections. Software designers should use adaptive interface with training wheels and extensive online help for novice users.
'Thus user interface designers face one of the challenging tasks because of the need to support a broad range of user diversity'. Browne,H 2000.As a result a number of guidelines are sprouting and often same guideline apply to many different demographics .For elderly, guidelines relating to visually impaired , motor skills and working memory should be taken care of.
WWW Consortium's web access initiative provides a set of guidelines for web pages designers to accommodate the elderly.
Provide equivalent alternatives to auditory and visual content
Don't rely on colour alone [give redundant cues]
Provide context and orientation information
Provide clear navigation mechanisms
Ensure the documents are clear and simple.
Microsoft addresses in the' Seniors and Technology" web page issues related to adults with visual and motor impairment, and low bandwidth connect