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    Towards digital inclusion - engaging older people in the 'digital world'

    Accessible Design in the Digital World Conference 2005

    Dundee, Scotland, 23 - 25 August 2005


    C. W. Olphert, L. Damodaran & A. J. May


    Governments across the globe have declared their commitment to building a people-centred, inclusive and development-oriented Information Society. But despite rapid proliferation and, in many cases, extensive penetration of digital technologies, a significant proportion of the global population remains 'digitally excluded'.

    In the UK, the majority of those who fall into this category are the elderly, and yet digital technologies offer enormous potential benefits to this sector of the population. Age itself is not a barrier to using digital technologies, and although older people tend to face other barriers to access such as cost, skills or disability, research suggests that many simply do not perceive the relevance of these technologies to themselves.

    This paper reviews some of the literature relating to older people's use of digital technologies, and presents the results of a survey to investigate the perceptions of older users and non-users of the internet as a step towards understanding the factors which lie behind the current situation.

    A critical factor appears to be a lack of awareness and understanding of the 'digital world'. The paper concludes with some suggestions for how this could be overcome.


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