Ageism in Design: Accessibility Without User Experience?

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


We investigated the perceptions of young computing science students about older people with regard to computer-based systems. Participants were shown a picture of either an old or young woman or man and asked to assess that persons computer literacy and suggest appropriate design aspects for them. The goal of this study was to see if the biases against older people and their perceived computer literacy extend to the design of systems for them.

The results draw on 216 questionnaires from students in the first year of their Information and Communications Technology (ICT) studies at an Austrian university of applied sciences. Mixed methods were used to explore the differences between the perceived design needs for older and younger people, and how these relate to the components of user experience and accessibility.

The results show that the design aspects mentioned for older people differ greatly from those mentioned for younger. Whereas for younger people many aspects that could be considered valuable and desirable are mentioned, for older people the focus is on accessibility and usability, almost to the exclusion of aspects that are valuable and desirable. Regarding accessibility, despite the perceived lack of expertise, the focus was on aspects like large fonts. This is concerning, as future systems will be designed by the students of today. These biases may influence whether future systems are acceptable to older people, and hence whether older people will benefit from them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)517-525
Number of pages9
JournalLecture Notes in Computer Science
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2022
EventICCHP-AAATE 2022: Joint International Conference on Digital Inclusion, Assistive Technology & Accessibility - Lecco, Italy
Duration: 11 Jul 202215 Jul 2022


  • Active Assisted Living (AAL)
  • Older people
  • User interface design
  • Ageism
  • Usability
  • User experience (UX)
  • Accessibility


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