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Hearing – Fred

line drawing of person

Age: 75    Height: 5ft 7ins

Lives in: Wiltshire

Mild hearing loss

Assistive aids:
Reading glasses

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What I can do

  • Can see well enough to read a large print book without glasses
  • Can use an ordinary telephone
  • Can use a mobile phone
  • Can use a computer, email and browse the internet

What I cannot do

  • Has great difficulty following a conversation if there is background noise (eg. a TV, radio or children playing)
  • Cannot hear anything in right ear
  • Cannot read the small print on medication bottles wearing glasses


Retired Bank Manager

My condition

I have a perforated right eardrum and no one sitting to my right can be heard. My health is good apart from minor age-related ailments. I like to be active physically and enjoy being involved with the grandchildren.

A typical day

Breakfast, review plans for the day; meet friends or shopping, domestic chores, hospital visiting.

Lunch, travel by bus or car to the town or country. I occasionally play golf.

Evening meal

Read, watch TV, write, play chess.  Every two years my wife and I go to Hong Kong for two months to work as volunteers for a refugee-related charity that recycles and gives presentations on refugee experience scenarios.

Good designs and how they improve my life

Microwave user buttons are easier to understand than they used to be; this simplifies use.

TV set up instructions are still not very clear, and usually require expert help to set up and use.

Lessons for designers

Computer programmes are designed by experts. The instructions on how to use them are therefore difficult to follow as some instruction is always missing, on the assumption that the user will automatically know what to do. For a non-expert, computer programmes don’t work!

Poor designs and how they impact my life

Computer installation programmes don’t work without expert help.

Road signs appear to have been designed for the use of people who know the area well, particularly in city centres.

Government websites are poorly designed, for example, HMRC’s Tax Online Return Programme was unworkable and defied the Revenue staffs’ ability to explain how to use it.

Five most important ‘things’ in my life

Family, faith, friends, being actively ‘involved’, reading and thinking.

Message for designers

Employ non-experts to try out computer programmes, to test workability of programmes.

Employ non-residents to drive through cities following road signs, to test clarity.