Striving to remove barriers that prevent us from building Vibrant, Diverse, Inclusive, Accessible Communities!



Overlap Between Barriers Faced by Seniors and People with Disabilities

By Mike Thompson, 10 March, 2023

An elder black gentleman sits at a breakfast nook and uses a laptop computer. He is reaching for his glasses to put them on and appears to be working to focus to make sense of the content on the screen.

The internet has revolutionized the way people communicate, learn and work. However, there are still many barriers that prevent some people from accessing the internet, including Older People and People with Disabilities. With the increasing number of older internet users, it is important to design products that are easier for them to use. Designing for older users is similar to designing for people with disabilities.

Older people have age-related impairments that can affect how they use the web, such as reduced contrast sensitivity, color perception, and near-focus, making it difficult to read web pages. They may also have reduced dexterity and fine motor control, making it difficult to use a mouse and click small targets. Difficulty hearing higher-pitched sounds and separating sounds can make it challenging to hear podcasts and other audio, especially when there is background music. Reduced short-term memory, difficulty concentrating, and being easily distracted can make it difficult to follow navigation and complete online tasks.

The barriers faced by Older People and People with Disabilities overlap. Thus, websites, applications, and tools that are accessible to people with disabilities are more accessible to older users as well. This means that the existing international accessibility standards from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) address most problems older users face.

W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) develops web standards focusing on making the web accessible to people with disabilities. Standards that are particularly relevant for older users include Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG), and Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG). These guidelines provide specific guidance on designing for older users.

As a society, we must prioritize accessibility for older users and take it upon ourselves to educate and advocate for others. By using resources such as The Business Case for Digital Accessibility and Better Web Browsing: Tips for the way you use Your Computer to create and produce information, we can promote accessibility and remove barriers. By doing so, we ensure that everyone, including Older People and People with Disabilities, have access to the vast wealth of information and resources available online.  

Striving to remove barriers that prevent us from building a Diverse, Vibrant, Inclusive, Accessible Community!

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