Still learning: older, disabled people and technology

I will forever wince when anyone refers to me - or anyone else who is still living for that matter - as an expert. My view is that as long as I'm living, I'm still learning, and this anti-expert viewpoint has been evinced and reinforced by what I have experienced in the first few weeks of my new job at Jewish Care.

It's one thing running an agency creating inclusive websites for clients who care about providing great user experiences for all, including older and disabled people who are frequently excluded from having decent experiences with mainstream technology, it's another thing writing, speaking and advocating about inclusive design, and yet quite another being smack dab in the middle of a charity where participation through inclusion for older and disabled people is at the heart of everything they do.

What I find really mind-blowing is the way that care, community and corporate life are completely integrated; the offices are just one wee part of the campus where it all happens, where staff get to mingle with community centre service users, volunteers and residents alike in the communal areas and cafe, where everyone is part of the family, so to speak.

And so, in this rich and wonderful environment, I have been able to spend time with all sorts of different people and particularly older and disabled people who are trying to get on in the digital age, just like everybody else. Sure, in my time I've done plenty of statistical research, focus groups, usability testing, user research and suchlike, but the lessons I've learned in these weeks are not about quantity, but quality. When it comes down to it, it's just life, whatever your age or ability. We're all just human beings. We all just want to be happy. It is that simple.

And I suppose that I may have known this intellectually, but now I'm able to experience it day in and day out and that's precisely why I made this career move in the first place. Lucky girl.

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