one web for all…

I’ve got mixed feelings about the SimplicITy computer with its six-button desktop aimed at ‘people aged over 60 who are unfamiliar with PCs and the internet’.  Part of me thinks what a great idea – not everyone can afford a Mac and the Windows OS has become so (unnecessarily?) complex. But what would the response be if the target audience were those classified as disabled or from a named country, class or culture. In an environment where everyday language is subject to the stringent tests to determine its political correctness, then it must be technically ageist to provide a product that implies those over 60 need something ‘simple’.

Regarding current website design – while it is far from perfect and I am continually frustrated by its inaccessibility – the direction remains ‘one web for all’. While some webs may be developed with a specific group in mind – e.g. high contrast/low image for the visually impaired – then this doesn’t deny access to anyone else. I wonder if a commercial move towards the provision of customised interfaces designed for specific groups in mind is beneficial to web equity or not. Shouldn’t we be working towards one web for all and one set of web skills for all too?

2 Replies to “one web for all…”

  1. Like you, I wondered all of these things on hearing about this new product. I was a little more surprised in that the news article I watched stated that it was for those ‘over 50’! The news item was accompanied by a short clip of a Valerie Singleton ‘video tutorial’ which, in my view, verged on being somewhat patronising.

    There are links in this debate to the social model of disability, as in my view much as you are suggesting I think Sue, it is not that ‘special’ technology needs to be designed for ‘special’ people, but that all technology should be accessible for all people – in the same way that the everything else in our society (i.e. buildings, transport, infrastructure) should be accessible for all people.

  2. The social model has improved the built environment but I’m not convinced it has changed attitudes. We should be working towards one world for all (regardless of the different ways in which individuals participate) and we have the technology to do this, but we don’t seem to have a broad enough field of vision to ensure equal access for everyone and not just the mainstream majority.

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