DRAFT Web Accessibility for Older Users

Editors Draft:
8 January 2009 [changelog]
Latest Draft; Previous draft (24 November 2008)
This document is an in-progress Editor's Draft.
Please send comments to public-comments-wai-age@w3.org (with public archive).

IMPORTANT: Instructions

The Notes section for each slide contains important information. Make sure you can read the Notes. On this slide, the notes start with "[NOTES SECTION: This is where the important information is ...]"

Copyright © 2008 W3C® (MIT, ERCIM, Keio)


[NOTES SECTION This is where the important information is: for each slide.]

Permission and Reference

Note to presenters:
If you plan to use this material for a presentation, please let us know by sending an email to wai-eo-editors@w3.org (a publicly-archived list), or if you do not want it public send it to wai@w3.org. Following your presentation, we would appreciate knowing how many people attended, what questions they had, and such. We also welcome your feedback and suggestions for the presentation.

The "Web Accessibility for Older Users" presentation material is copyright© W3C and licensed under the W3C Document License, with the exception of some of the images. Additionally, you are granted permission to create modifications or derivatives of the material.

All that means that you can copy, change, translate, distribute, and present the "Web Accessibility for Older Users" presentation material as long as you include the reference information below as source material:

Web Accessibility for Older Users, A.M.J. Arch, ed. W3C (MIT, ERCIM, Keio), January 2009. www.w3.org/WAI/WAI-AGE/@@@@


Credits for the images and information on permission to use the images are included in the Notes section where the image or data first appears.


Web Accessibility for Older Users
Findings from the WAI-AGE Project

Last Updated 6 January 2009



Presentation Overview


Today I'll be talking about ... see text on the slide

Note to presenters:
Remember that some people may not be able to see the slides, for example, people who are blind or people listening to an audio-only recording of the presentation. Make sure that you say all of the information that is on each slide.

WAI-AGE Project

EC project focused on:


WAI-AGE Project background


The Web Accessibility Initiative: Ageing Education and Harmonisation (WAI-AGE) project is funded as a European Commission IST Specific Support Action with the goal of increasing accessibility of the Web for the elderly as well as for people with disabilities in European Union Member States.

The project is specifically intended to:

But lets first look at who is affected ...

Who is affected

Changes in world demographics

UN forecast

European forecast:


The United Nations has forecast .... "Globally, the number of persons aged 60 years or over is expected almost to triple, increasing from 672 million in 2005 to nearly 1.9
billion by 2050." and that "... by 2050 most oldest-old (over 80 years) will live in the developing world (278 million out of 394 million)"

In the European Union, the EU25 group of countries are predicted to to have nearly 30% over its population over 64 years by 2050, up from 16% in 2000 to 18% in 2010 to 21% in 2020 to 25% in 2030.

Many counties will experience greater changes than this [move to next slide]

Note to presenters:
Several slides follow with specific country demographic forecasts for you to select from.
You may like to contrast your own country with a low growth and/or a high growth country.

UN - http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/WPP2004/2004Highlights_finalrevised.pdf
EU - http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/social_situation/docs/ssr2005_2006_en.pdf

Looking forward - United Kingdom

Graph of UKL population projections

UK's Ageing Population


These figures show the ageing trend in the UK ... while the proportion over 50 years is not forecast to grow as rapidly as the proportion over 65 years, it does represent people still in the workforce who may be starting to experience some age-related impairments such as vision and hearing decline (around 18% of the population).

Note to presenters:
Don't forget to read the numbers out for those who may have low vision

UK Office of National Statistics:

Looking forward - Japan

Graph of Japan's population projections

Japanese population over 65 years

At the same time, Japan's total population is expected to decline from around 127m people at present to less than 90m people by 2050.

Discuss the numbers and emphasise that in Japan it is currently 1 in 5 over 65; within 30 years it will be 1 in 3
Japan's proportion of people over 65 years is the highest in the world

Reuters, undated - http://www.reuters.com/news/globalcoverage/agingjapan
Reuters, 17 Sept 2007 - http://www.reuters.com/article/ousiv/idUST2888420070917

Looking forward - Spain

Graph of Spains's population projections

Spain's Ageing Population

Source: EuroStat (PDF)

Spain is forecast to experience similar ageing patterns to the EU average for the next decade, but will exceed the EU average by the 2050.

[read out the data]]

Source: EUROPE IN FIGURES — Eurostat yearbook 2006-07 (Chapter 1 - Population) PDF

Looking forward - US

Graph of US population projections

US's Ageing Population

Source: US Census


The United States is forecast to experience lower ageing patterns compared with the EU. [read out numbers]

For example, the US is forecast to have 16% of its population over 65 year of age in 2020, while Europe forecasts 21%.

[read out the data]

Source: US Population Projections (released 2008) - see Table 3

Looking forward - another country

Another country's population over 65 years

create a local slide if details are available

Note to presenters:
Forecasts for all EU countries are available from EUROPE IN FIGURES — Eurostat yearbook 2006-07 (Chapter 1 - Population) PDF

Looking forward - Europe's declining workforce

Graph of EU old-age dependency ratios projections for EU-25, Italu, Austria and the Netherlands

European Union - old age dependency ratio

Graph and table shows population aged 65 and over as a % of the working age population.

2010 26% 22% 26% 31%
2030 40% 37% 41% 45%
2050 53% 49% 53% 66%


Source: EuroStat (PDF)

This table and chart highlights the forecast differences across Europe over the next four decades.

In 2005, most countries were close to the EU average of 1 person over 65 for every four of working age (1:4).

The EU average in 2010 will be 26%, forecast to rise to 40% in 2030 and 53% in 2050 (i.e. a change from 4 workers for every retiree to 2 workers for every retiree).
Some individual countries within the EU vary considerqably from the average [read out the contrasting figures for Netherlands, Austria and Italy]

These forecast changes between 2010, 2030 and 2050 emphasises the need to support older people in the workplace (note that many EU countries are currently raising the retirement age) and in the community - an accessible Web contributes to this.

Note to presenters:
European presenters may like to extract the actual numbers for their own country from EuroStat and contrast with EU average (see also the Eurostat Yearbook [PDF])


At the same time, online participation is developing and expected:


These previous statistics are resulting in working ages being extended, and with that goes lifelong learning.

Furthermore, all forms of community participation are going online ... read list.

Older people are expected and wanting to participate.

Ageing and Functional Impairments

Vision decline

Hearing loss

Motor skill diminishment

Impairment often accompanies the ageing process - vision loss, hearing loss, motor skill diminishment.

Vision decline often starts in a person's mid-40s. It affects 16% of people 65 to 74 years, but 46% of those over 85 years. In older people vision decline includes:

Hearing starts to decline at around 50 years, affecting 19% of people 61 to 80 years but 75% of people over 81 years.

Motor skill diminishment includes arthritis, with joint stiffening, and Parkinson's Disease, with associated hand trembling, making mouse use difficult or impossible for some. Arthritis is estimated to affect at least 50% of people over 65.

Note to presenters:
More detailed data is available from Web Accessibility for Older Users: A Literature Review

Ageing and Cognitive Limitations

Dementia estimates:

Mild Cognitive Impairment is more common:


Cognitive impairment is also common. While Dementia affects part of the older population (1.4% of people 65-69 years increasing to 24% of people over 85 years), forms of mild cognitive impairment (or MCI) are much more common. MCI can result in:

Note to presenters:
more detailed data is available from Web Accessibility for Older Users: A Literature Review

Older people are different!


Changing rapidly!


There is a common misconception that older people can't use and don't use computers, or even need them. Older people are rapidly coming online - they are the fastest growing group. For example, in the UK a 2008 survey indicated that 30% of all those over 65 years have used the Internet, up from 18% in 2006.

And older people undertake similar activities to younger people - such as health, travel, banking, government interaction, email, social networking - even if they mightn't use some applications, such as Facebook, as often as some younger people.

Note to presenters:
More data about older people online is available from the Literature Review.

Understanding the needs of the ageing community

An extensive Literature Review was undertaken including literature which:

See "Web Accessibility for Older Users: A Literature Review" for details


To better understand the needs of the ageing community, the WAI-AGE Project undertook an extensive Literature Review. This review included a broad range of literature including scientific papers and popular articles. The range of literature reviewed included those that ... ...

Literature observations


In reviewing the literature, the Project found that:

Accessibility requirements

Requirements overlap with those for people with disabilities:

WCAG 2.0 addresses these

Many of the requirements for making websites accessible to people with disabilities match the requirements of older users:

WCAG 2.0 addresses these requirements

Usability requirements

Requirements may also assist people with disabilities:

WCAG 2.0 is also addressing more of these areas

Usability features also overlap with the requirements of people with disabilities

WCAG 2.0 covers more usability requirements than previously - this will assist older people and people with disabilities

Other Observations

Some other observations were made from the literature:


Next steps for the project


The project has been interacting with WAI Working groups and providing some ideas for consideration in forthcoming guidelines or as techniques for existing guidelines.

Much of the remainder of the project will concentrate on incorporating the requirements of older people into existing WAI documents and developing new documents to help promote the need for including older people as well as people with disabilities during he development of websites and web applications.

Documents for revision


Many existing WAI documents will benefit from having the needs of older users more explicitly considered:

New WAI documents planned


New resources are planned to build on the Project's findings and the benefits of WCAG 2.0:

Participation welcome

Anyone interested in this topic is invited to:


Research needed

Some gaps that need to be investigated:

Some of the gaps in our understanding of the requirements of older people using the Web relate to:



Project Web site:


The WAI-AGE Project is supported by:

6th Framework Programme 2002 to 2006
Before asking for questions, please mention that the WAI-AGE Project is a European Commission IST Specific Support Action funded by Sixth Framework Programme.