A report published in September by John Clarkson and Simeon Keates on 'Investigating the inclusivity of digital television set-top box receivers' has been hitting the headlines.
The study was conducted in association with Generics, a technology and business consultancy. Stephen Timms, e-commerce minister, commenting on the report, said the research challenged the TV industry to make digital more accessible. Millions of viewers do not want digital television because they find it too "laborious and demanding" even to change channels. The elderly and short-sighted find it hard coping with the complicated remote control and "electronic programme guide" that, on digital television, replaces the simple pressing of a button to switch stations.
The research was commissioned by the Government, which is trying to transfer the entire viewing population from existing analogue sets to digital television by 2010. Mr Timms said: "The UK leads the world in take up of digital TV, and we must not squander the opportunity to make the most of this advantage. This report provides a wake-up call to the industry." He added: "Today's digital TV equipment is confusing and difficult to use, even for people who take to new technology quickly. We cannot expect people to fully embrace digital television unless it is simple and easy to install and use."
The expertise that John and Simeon have developed in the area of 'inclusive design' put them in an ideal position to undertake this research. They have recently published a book on the subject, and their research forms the basis of an undergraduate course of lectures on 'Inclusive Design'.