Hardware, connectivity and set-up

Although some people will have help available to help them during the initial installation, set-up and continued use of their equipment, others won’t. In a 2007 survey by the royal national institute of blind people of blind and partially sighted television viewers, 75% reported that they have not got sighted helpers. European demographic projections up to 2030 anticipate an increasing proportion of older adults, especially those aged 75 and over, living either alone or with only their partner.

Being able to set up and use television equipment independently is important for many people and essential for some. It should therefore be as easy as possible. A person who has a positive out of box experience will potentially be more likely to buy a product from that manufacturer in the future.

The complexities of connecting new equipment, tuning in channels and setting the required display preferences can present a real barrier to use for almost all consumers, but especially for people with sensory, mobility, intellectual or cognitive impairments. Figuring out which cable connects to which socket, fitting the cables, going through the set-up sequence, finding options and troubleshooting problems can be difficult and confusing. People without impairments may also find these tasks challenging, particularly those who are not used to new technologies.

The less complicated the installation, set-up and use is, the less likely users are to encounter problems that require additional customer support. Even when customer support is available, by phone for example, it can be difficult or impossible for some users to follow the prescribed steps, as illustrated in these quotes from the guidelines survey about the customer support experiences of people with disabilities:

I find i need someone else on hand to unplug etc. While following instructions.

Impossible for a blind person to do so without sighted assistance.

guidelines survey respondents.

report from the UK digital switchover technical trial showed that:

  • Some users failed to maximise their picture quality by using an available rgb scart socket. this was ‘too technical’ for most consumers, even if they read through all of the instructions.
  • The level of confidence in attempting installation fell rapidly with increased age. 51% of those aged 75+ were ‘not at all confident’ they could cope.

Some of these problems are illustrated in a humorous way in the short drama relative confusion by newell, goodman-deane & morgan, in which actors depICT the experiences of older people trying to set up their new digital television equipment without outside assistance. The drama is available on dvd (pdf 115kb) and can be seen on Youtube in three parts.

Sources of information used for the guidelines on hardware, connectivity and set-up

As stated in the overall introduction to the guidelines, these recommendations are largely the result of a compilation and restructuring of information contained in existing resources. The key resources used for this section were:

These and other resources are referenced in the bibliography.