, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 245-260

The effect of previous exposure to technology on acceptance and its importance in usability and accessibility engineering

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In Usability and Accessibility Engineering, metric standards are vital. However, the development of a set of reciprocal metrics—which can serve as an extension of, and supplement to, current standards—becomes indispensable when the specific needs of end-user groups, such as the elderly and people with disabilities, are concerned. While ISO 9126 remains critical to the usability of a product, the needs of the elderly population are forcing the integration of other factors. Familiarity and recognisability are not relevant to someone with no experience and therefore no referent; however, acceptance becomes a major factor in their willingness to learn something new and this acceptance requires trust based on association. Readability and legibility are of less relevance to a blind person than to someone with failing eyesight. This paper describes some usability metrics ascertained on the basis of experiments made with applications for elderly people throughout the summer term of 2007. The factors that influence the older users’ acceptance of software, including the extent of their previous exposure to technology, are evaluated in order to provide short guidelines for software developers on how to design and develop software for the elderly. The evaluation of the expectations, behavior, abilities, and limitations of prospective end-users is considered of primary importance for the development of technology. A total of N = 31 participants (22 women/9 men) took part in various tests. The participants’ ages ranged from 49 to 96 years with an average age of 79. Five of the tests were designed for a PDA or cellular phone, one test was designed for a laptop PC. Of the total of 55 tests, 52 tests provided sufficient data to evaluate the results. In 23 of the tests, all tasks were completed. As a main outcome, it can be experimentally proved that the acceptance is related to a factor, which is this paper is called PET (Previous Exposure to Technology). This is discussed in light of the aforementioned metrics.