Making automated telephone systems usable for older adults

Roxane Cortes, Mark Turner

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


This study compared the usability of two different versions of a speech activated automated telephone service with a group of older adults, aged between 50 and 87. The effects of individual differences in cognitive ability on the use of each telephone service were also explored. All participants completed a series of information search tasks with a standard (control) service that used numbered menus, and with a specially developed service designed around an office filing system metaphor. Subjective and objective measures of performance were recorded and analysed to compare services. The use of automated telephone menu systems presented a significant barrier for older adults with only 59 per cent of participants able to complete all search tasks. Successful task completion improved significantly when using the spatial metaphor-based version of the service, which was also rated as being easier to visualise than the standard service. Correlation data suggested that spatial ability was related to successful task completion with both services. However, the time taken to complete search tasks correlated with working memory capacity only in the case of the standard service and not the metaphor-based service. Performance with these automated services was also found to be unrelated to previous telephone experience, suggesting the incorporation of spatial metaphor within automated telephone systems therefore provides an important aid to navigation when developing future services with older adults in mind.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Event2011 British Psychological Society Annual Conference - Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 4 May 20116 May 2011


Conference2011 British Psychological Society Annual Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


Dive into the research topics of 'Making automated telephone systems usable for older adults'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this