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Guest Blog – Looking at the relationship that the older generation has with the Internet by Andrew Farrell

With the elderly generations having an increasingly longer life, it has become increasingly clear that the Internet world must start to look at what accessibility changes can be made to include the elderly further in current and future web technologies. The Internet is a tool that is consistently improving the elderly generation’s quality of life and it is important that websites are now being designed to accommodate all accessibility issues that a senior citizen may have.

During the data collection stage of this topics research, it was discovered that social media allows potentially socially isolated individuals to feel like they are still connected to their families and friends without physically being with them. It was also made clear that some people who were using the Internet weren’t getting the most out of their experience because their disabilities or accessibility issues were not being accommodated for on certain websites.

When designing a website, there are three key requirements that should be adhered to, to ensure that an elderly web user receives a full web experience. The first is a straightforward and self-explanatory interface, making sure that all the elements on the web page are simplistic and not intimidating to any level of user. The next is that a website offers educational advice by providing information to its users and usability tips to help them get the most out of their experience.

The final requirement is the most important, meeting most accessibility issues that a user may have. Whilst people are living longer, this will mean that more people will possibly become susceptible to developing disabilities and therefore accessibility problems when using the Internet. These people may be very comfortable with navigating around the Internet and using its features, but if their ability weakens due to disabilities, cognitive, or motor issues, the Internet as a community must be ready to jump these hurdles and have the correct measures in place to ensure that all older users still partake in successful user experiences on all websites.

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