Saturday, 25 March 2017

Silver Industry Standards Roadmap and Guidelines on user interface design for older adults launched

Guidelines lay path to bridge 'silver' digital divide
Road map on standards for elder industry also launched to support active ageing
By Priscilla Goy, The Straits Times, 24 Mar 2017

Senior citizens here could benefit from more elder-friendly devices and online services, after a set of guidelines on the design of user interfaces for them was launched yesterday.

For instance, it recommends that at least a 12-point font size should be used as the default setting on a 15-inch screen, with font size scaled according to the screen size and easily adjustable.

Another recommendation: The use of time-based content, such as filling an online form within a time limit, should be minimised. Otherwise, users should have the option of extending the time limits.

The set of guidelines, also known as SS 618, was one of two initiatives launched yesterday to support active ageing.

The other was a road map that charts the direction of developing and implementing standards for the silver industry in the next three to five years. It covers four aspects: how the elderly live, work, and play; and infrastructure.

With this road map, more guidelines that support the needs of the elderly - which could cover office ergonomics and the design of gyms, for instance - will be rolled out too.

The two initiatives were launched by national standards body SPRING Singapore and the industry-led Singapore Standards Council. They come amid increasing Internet use and an ageing population. Currently, one in eight Singaporeans is older than 65, but by 2030, this proportion will increase to one in four.

At the launch event at the Singapore University of Social Sciences, MP Zaqy Mohamad, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Communications and Information, said: "As Singapore progresses towards the vision of a Smart Nation, it is important that we address the 'silver' digital divide, where our elderly may not be able to access new products and services due to information inaccessibility."

Ms Soh Swee Ping, chief executive of the Council for Third Age, agreed. The council is a charity that promotes active ageing, and was involved in developing the guidelines on user interface design.

She said that most websites do not cater only to seniors, so developers may not have accounted for the elderly's needs in their design.

"It'd be good if websites are adaptive to cater to the needs of people of different ages," she added.

Retired engineer Ngiam Tong Yuen, 78, welcomed the new guidelines. He said: "I've had times in which I had to key in a one-time password sent to my phone, within a time limit, and I have to quickly find my phone by then. It often causes some panic for the elderly."

Meanwhile, SPRING Singapore assistant chief executive for quality and excellence Choy Sauw Kook said SPRING and its partners in the public, private and social service sectors are working on developing other standards for the silver industry.

"These initiatives will support the transformation of the healthcare sector and infrastructure, and help businesses in the development of emerging healthcare and biomedical products and services for older adults."

She added: "Standards can help in promoting the growth of an enterprise, raising productivity, improving resource efficiency, and supporting the social needs."

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