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Study finds mobile technology for elderly and disabled must be improved

In this era of the tablet and the smartphone, computing power has never been more important – or mobile. But a recent report by the Institution of Engineering and Technology has shown tech developers have missed creating usable tools for independence-conscious elderly and disabled users in order to get the most out of public transportation.

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Study finds mobile technology for elderly and disabled must be improved

In this era of the tablet and the smartphone, computing power has never been more important – or mobile. But a recent report by the Institution of Engineering and Technology has shown tech developers have missed creating usable tools for independence-conscious elderly and disabled users in order to get the most out of public transportation.

In this era of the tablet and the smartphone, computing power has never been more important – or mobile. But a recent report by the Institution of Engineering and Technology has shown tech developers have missed creating usable tools for independence-conscious elderly and disabled users in order to get the most out of public transportation.

In the report, the IET said more than 80% of over-60s do not use journey-planning websites, apps or information services, and called for a fresh approach to developing and marketing these services. The group is calling upon mobile providers and app developers to encourage older and disabled people to use mobile technology in order to increase their independence.

The IET highlighted that there was very little understanding and awareness among older people and those who are disabled about travel or mobility information on mobile devices. With improvements in both the quality of information and increases in the 4G networks speeds, potentially thousands could greatly benefit from more awareness and availability of beneficial apps and products.

There needs to be improvements in responsive transport information, data that is updated and connected to public transportation nodes, and help in creating journey plans through digital devices.

The key for success, the research found, is to dispel a lingering uncertainty with technology. Some of those surveyed were concerned about using technology with public transportation – citing timetable or service alterations and a lack of flexibility.

“Over recent years our public transport system has benefited from improvements to the physical infrastructure and service provision. The rapid growth in new technologies represents an even bigger opportunity to improve people’s experience of public transport,” said IET principal policy advisor Sahar Danesh to a local trade magazine.

“If we can find a way to encourage older and disabled people to embrace this technology, many of them could enjoy fully independent travel instead of being housebound or relying on relatives and carers as they do today. The potential implications for their quality of life – and for the economy – are huge.

“If we fail to tackle this we risk excluding disabled and older people from basic human rights of independence, mobility and social inclusions,” said Danesh.

The report also recommended higher levels of conversation and engagement between the tech sector, public transport operators, engineers, government and users to establish a joined-up approach to inclusive mobility.

Within the marketplace, cooperation amongst a wide variety of stakeholders is key in creating the right kind of technological support. From home aids like high-functioning stairlifts to integrated communications systems, beneficial technology for the elderly is a critical need for the future.

Image Credit: William Hook (flickr.com)

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