As multiple states mobilize their resources in an effort to distribute COVID-19 vaccines as efficiently as possible, complex and rigorous online registration sites reportedly are making the process much more difficult for senior citizens to navigate.
According to one expert, senior citizens have been “left behind” when it comes to vaccine distribution because of poor computer design.
Speaking with The Western Journal via email, professor Sergio Sayago of Universitat de Lleida in Spain said the online registration process being used by many health departments across the U.S. has frustrated many senior citizens seeking to be vaccinated.
A computer scientist, Sayago holds two degrees in software engineering and a doctorate in computer science and human computer interaction.
When asked what sorts of “problems” senior citizens encounter when attempting to use digital technology, Sayago said that “older people do not have ‘problems.’ The problem is ours.”
“When we, typically young and middle-aged adults (designers, programmers…), set out to design a new technology – in this case, an online vaccination finder, this technology is more often than not designed ‘for people like us’, i.e., young and middle-aged people who are technologically literate,” he told The Western Journal via email.
“Consequently, older people, and other potential groups of people (for example, people with disabilities) are left behind.”
Sayago offered a solution.
“The problem can be solved by putting people first, from considering that the users are not like you and including older adults in the design process, to checking online resources and current research on designing technologies for older people and other segments of the population,” he told The Western Journal.
“One-size is unlikely to fit all, but one-size should fit as many as possible.”
Multiple reports indicate older Americans across the country, including those in Arizona, New York, Florida and the District of Columbia, have been confused by their states’ online registration systems.
On Jan. 10, New York Comptroller Scott M. Stringer criticized the city’s “complex, burdensome, and buggy” online sign-up process.
According to Stringer, this includes a “multi-step verification process,” a “six-step process to set up an appointment” and as many as “51 questions or fields” to complete along the way “in addition to uploading images of your insurance card.”
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Additionally, in an interview with CNBC, a Phoenix resident explained why she was having trouble navigating online vaccination registration.
“It would be impossible for anyone my age to try and do it without help,” she said.
“We just aren’t computer savvy.”
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