Research and analysis

Ron: older user with multiple conditions

Published 25 October 2017

I don’t like having to ring call centres - it’s too noisy and people don’t speak clearly enough.

Ron is 82 and lives in Swansea with his wife Barbara.

Ron’s been retired since he was 72. He has arthritis and is losing his hearing. He also has cataracts (though he’s had one removed) and has had both hips replaced.

He struggles most with background noise when he’s out with friends, and with the mouse when he’s using the computer.

Devices and technology

Ron has a landline phone with a built-in loop, amplification and larger buttons. He also uses a Doro 6520 mobile phone. The buttons are big enough for him to press, but he refuses to text and doesn’t read messages.

He has a tablet his children gave him as a present, mainly to use video chat and email to stay in touch with his family.

Ron wears a hearing aid in each ear. He’s disappointed that they mainly make things louder (not clearer), but they’re useful when he switches them to a hearing loop, like at his local train station.

Goals and wishes

Ron wishes websites used clearer colours.

He also wishes more websites showed phone numbers he could ring.


If Ron’s having a formal appointment with someone, it’s hard for him to hear if there’s no hearing loop or it doesn’t work well.

He finds it stressful calling a contact centre - there’s often a lot of background noise, and he struggles when the person he’s talking to doesn’t speak clearly.

Ron’s poor eyesight makes it hard for him to read large blocks of text. He doesn’t know how to adjust his browser settings, and often he’ll just give up.

Making things work for Ron

What to do Further reading
Make sure the offline parts of your service are accessible. For example, some people may need a quiet space or hearing loops for face-to-face appointments. Making your service accessible, guidance on the Service Manual.
Write in plain English and break up content with things like headings and lists. Use the ‘inverted pyramid’ approach with the most important information at the top. Structuring your content, guidance on GOV.UK.
Avoid using small text and make sure text has good colour contrast. Typography, part of the GOV.UK Design System.

The 100% easy-2-read standard, on iA.

Your body text is too small, post on Marvel blog.
Follow best practice for accessible form design - for example, leave enough space between fields, and position field labels directly above the fields they relate to. Components for user interfaces, part of the GOV.UK Design System.
Include older people in your user research. User research for government services: an introduction, guidance on GOV.UK.

More reading

Designing for the elderly: ways older people use digital technology differently.

Statistics on hearing loss

11 million people in the UK are deaf or hard of hearing.

People wait 10 years on average before addressing their hearing loss.

Hearing loss affects:

  • over 70% of people aged 70 and older
  • over 40% of people aged 50 and over