Amanda Protheroe from the Cardiff School of Health Sciences, who we will be working with us alongside Derwen during this project, visited us in the studio this week to talk to us.
Her talk really made me think more from the older peoples’ point of view and encouraged me to go away and carry out some further research of my own into how older people might perceive or interpret things.
Two key pieces of data have really stuck in my mind from Amanda’s presentation. The first of which is: 64% of older people have a visual impairment; and the other is: 20% (and rising) of 75+ year-olds have some form of dementia. Because these two stuck out to me so much, I have looked further into what it is like to have an eyesight condition or dementia.
Common eyesight difficulties and problems:
- Steady decline in vision, particularly for those who are 50+ years old.
- Glare sensitivity.
- Dim light or too much light can make it difficult to see/read.
- Slower adaption to changes in light levels.
- Colour and depth perception is not as good.
- Way finding is harder.
- Sight loss is a major factor contributing to falls and accidents.
Common dementia difficulties and problems:
- Interpreting shadows or dark areas as holes in the ground.
- Interpreting shiny surfaces as being wet.
- Interpreting bold or busy patterns as being moving objects.
- Struggling to find their way to somewhere (e.g. toilet).
Thinking about these issues that older people may have, I can use different techniques to avoid the potential problems when doing my own ideation and designing. I need to put myself in their (the older peoples’) shoes and experience it as if I am them, and not a young adult.
Things to think about:
- Using good colour contrast will definitely be effective as it will make things more easy and clear to see.
- Any print should be large enough to read – nothing below 16 pt for body text.
- Use effective lighting to reduce shadows, glare and reflections – natural light is the best.
- Good signage will enable independence, confidence and better wellbeing among the older people – iconography/imagery could work well alongside print.
- Artworks can encourage engagement and also help older people find their war around – they can use them like landmarks.
- Avoid distractions.