Bringing up the standards
The guidelines on user interface design for older adults was launched to promote an age-inclusive society.
The Silver Industry Standards Committee and SPRING Singapore have launched a new Singapore Standard (SS 618) on “Guidelines on user interface design for older adults”, that will help designers of digital devices and online services in designing user interfaces that are senior-friendly.
The guidelines were announced by Zaqy Mohamad, chairman of Government Parliamentary Committee for Communications and Information, and MP for Chua Chu Kang Group Representation Constituency. He 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.”
The guidelines, which are not a mandatory standard, is developed based on the Singapore University of Social Services’ (formerly SIM University) (SUSS) study on the usage of IT devices and online services among Singaporeans between 55 and 75 years old. The guidelines go beyond basic considerations such as readable font size for older adults, colour and contrast, presentation of information, to include considerations on senior-friendly designs and features. SS 618 also provides suggestions as well as negative examples of user interfaces.
Assoc Prof Chui Yoon Ping, head of programme, Human Factors in Safety, School of Science & Technology, SUSS, said that there are many user interface guidelines but not many for older adults. She added that for developers and designers, it will “raise awareness of the needs of the seniors to make their products and services more usable for them and create positive experiences for them”.
Also launched was the Roadmap for Silver Industry Standards to support active ageing for the next three to five years. It was developed by the Silver Industry Standards Committee under the Singapore Standards Council and SPRING Singapore, together with Government agencies, associations, institutes of higher learning, and industry players. It sets the direction for standards development to support the goals of the national Action Plan for Successful Ageing in Singapore.
The goals are to create a socially-cohesive community, create ageless workplaces, enhance lifelong employability through lifelong learning, enhance the overall accessibility of public spaces, improve overall health and wellness, and encourage senior volunteerism. It is based on four aspects:
- Play – This involves active ageing through regular participation in physical, social and leisure activities. In this area, standards can help support the development of products and services such as the design of age-friendly gyms, sports and entertainment facilities.
- Live – This is about empowering the seniors to choose a lifestyle suitable for their health condition and functional ability including living independently with access to round-the-clock services on-site and institutionalised care. Standards can support this area such as guidelines covering nutritional requirements for seniors and specifications for assistive technology.
- Work – This creates a conducive work environment that allows for paid and non-paid employment options and is customisable to the needs of older working adults. In this area, standards such as guidelines on office ergonomics can be helpful.
- Infrastructure –This builds a safe and barrier-free environment that enables greater mobility for seniors between spaces. Standards such as design guidelines for public spaces and healthcare infrastructure can help build an environment for all ages.
Said Robert Chew, chairman, Silver Industry Standards Committee: “An ageing population presents both challenges and opportunities. The development of a roadmap aims to use quality and standards as a strategic tool to address these challenges by ensuring that the infrastructure and services meet quality and safety requirements.
“It also provides opportunities for businesses, giving them a first-mover advantage to access international/regional markets through the development of innovative products and services that are age-friendly and of assured quality.”
** For those who are interested, the standard is available for purchase from the Singapore Standards eShop in hard copy or e-copy at www.singaporestandardseshop.sg. The cost is S$57.10 and excludes GST.