Table of Contents
Age is an unavoidable part of life that we tend to ignore until it impacts our ability levels. For example, you probably use digital technology without a second thought. But what about 20 years from now? We need measures that promote web accessibility for the elderly, just as we need them for people with disabilities. Unsurprisingly, there’s a parallel path of solutions for both.
Nobody can escape the aging process, so it helps everyone to support tech that’s there for us in the latter stages of life.
Accessibility: A Future Safety Net for Everyone
In 20 years, will you keep up with rapidly changing interfaces and continue developing a nuanced understanding of new systems? You may not need accommodations now, but thinking ahead is best. At some point, you could be squinting to read website text and lamenting your device’s tiny screen. It’s easy to brush these concerns aside in our younger years, but a preventative approach to web design for the elderly will benefit us all in the long run.
No one should feel embarrassed or ashamed of their capability level. Although it can be challenging for aging people to admit that they need accommodations, they should never have to be singled out publicly for requiring them.
That’s why design for the elderly must conform to the most critical accessibility standards. Accessibility laws are in place for a reason. If you’re unfamiliar with the WCAG 2.0 guidelines, there is a handy overview post on this blog to help guide you. The purpose of universal design is that it makes everyone feel included and strives to design things useful to as much of the population as possible.
So, where do you start? The tips below are your first steps in the right direction.
5 Web Accessibility Tips for Older Users
Digital accessibility for seniors depends a lot on the individual. Luckily, there are proven best practices that make designing for the elderly more effective:
1. Provide Enlarged-Font Functionality: WCAG 2.0 standards state that users need to be able to zoom in on website content to 200% without losing functionality. Unfortunately, many sites don’t allow that, alienating many users while not following basic accessibility standards.
2. Ensure Proper Color Contrast: Website text must be readable and not blend into the background. Use a color contrast checker to ensure your site is acceptable.
3. Offer Keyboard Navigation: Older adults often have trouble with fine motor skills, and conditions such as arthritis can keep them from using standard navigation tools. Keyboard navigation is an excellent solution to help them quickly get around your site without using a mouse.
4. Provide Subtitled Content: Hearing loss is common in older adults, but this doesn’t mean they should have to miss out on getting to experience the wonderful (and sometimes less than excellent) world of web videos and other content with sound. Providing subtitled content allows users who are hard of hearing to follow along without issues.
5. Provide Unique, Descriptive Links: Ensure your link text clearly describes where it takes end users. Avoid generalities like “click here” because they’re more complex for screen readers.
Accessibility for Seniors: What Are We Waiting For?
Digital inclusion for older adults is a pressing issue that eventually impacts everyone. So we should view web accessibility as an excellent opportunity. If we make technology adaptable enough to age with us, it’s one less battle we’ll need to fight when we’re older. You may not have to squint at your device in 20 years with the right tools, raised awareness, and legislative action.
While you might not be directly involved in making apps or devices, you can influence the digital world in numerous ways. Consider volunteering to help teach older adults about the available modifications or how to use critical technology. We must include this population in the digital revolution to gain new insights we might otherwise miss while ensuring they have access to the content they need.
Fortunately, assistive technology that supports people with disabilities also helps the entire population, including older adults. Learn why UserWay is a trusted accessibility platform around the world.
UserWay: A Trusted Source for Accessibility & Compliance
UserWay’s AI-powered technology empowers users of all abilities to access and use your website on any digital device. Trusted by over one million websites worldwide, UserWay leaves no stone unturned concerning your accessibility and legal conformance needs.
To get the A-to-Z attention you need, start with an expert consultation right away.
Answers to Common FAQs
Why Should Older Adults Learn Digital Tech?
To keep up with their peers, find jobs, stay connected to world events, shop online, and generally thrive in the modern world.
What Are the Biggest Accessibility Barriers for Older Adults?
Financial limitations and a lack of opportunity are the biggest obstacles.
What Are Common Myths About Older Adults & Tech?
There’s a common perception that newer technologies repel older adults. Yet, according to a study by AARP, tech use among U.S. seniors has increased by 75% in the past five years. Yet, only 25% feel confident with technology. So, it’s not about tech adoption. It’s about providing more accessible tech for all.