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Designing for Older Adult Users of Web, Mobile, and Handheld Technologies

Thursday, November 8, 2007
3:00 - 4:15 p.m. | Room Big Ten C, Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center

This event was held in conjunction with MSU's Fifth Annual Usability & Accessibility conference, part of World Usability Day. View the World Usability Day full program.


  • Ann Becker picture
  • S. Ann Becker
  • Professor, Management Information Systems and Computer Science
  • Director, National Center for Small Business Information
  • Florida Institute of Technology

Dr. S. Ann Becker is a professor of management information systems and computer science and the director of the National Center for Small Business Information at Florida Institute of Technology. Dr. Becker has extensive experience in teaching, research, and consulting in electronic commerce, database technologies, Web and handheld usability, and software engineering. She has a MBA and a M.S. and Ph.D. in Information Systems from the University of Maryland, College Park. Dr. Becker has over 100 publications, and her research has been supported by Texas Instruments, IBM, the National Science Foundation, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Alzheimer's Association, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. She has been awarded over $1.5 million in research grants as principal or co-principal investigator. Dr. Becker is also an associate editor of several journals.


Technologies today provide an extraordinary opportunity to promote better living for the rapidly expanding older adult population. The Web has become a popular resource for older adults, 60 years and older, in supplementing traditional healthcare channels. Mobile and handheld technologies, together with Web technology, are emerging as important resources in the pursuit of both aging in place and quality of life initiatives. Through these technologies, older adults can stay connected to family and friends, take advantage of government services, access health information, and pursue lifelong learning, among other benefits. Unfortunately, older adults may encounter usability barriers, which impede their everyday use of these technologies. Poorly designed interfaces and complex reading content may prevent older adults from utilizing these technologies. This talk addresses these issues. Older adults are profiled in terms of aging factors to be considered in the design of usable interfaces. Past research is discussed in relation to usability studies and design solutions. A novel interface design for handheld and mobile devices is shown. The broader impact of usability research is discussed from multiple perspectives, including government, student researchers, aging caregivers, and remote populations.