Older Users and Web Accessibility:
Meeting the Needs of Ageing Web Users

Background

Older web users are an increasing market segment and an important target group for many businesses, governments, and other organizations.

The European Commission-funded WAI-AGE Project researched:

The results of the research and subsequent work determined that existing international accessibility standards from the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) address most older user needs.

Overlapping Needs: People who are Elderly and People with Disabilities

Many older people have age-related impairments that can affect how they use the web, such as declining:

These issues overlap with the accessibility needs of people with disabilities. Thus, websites, applications, and tools that are accessible to people with disabilities are more accessible to older users as well.

Guidelines and Other Standards

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international consortium that develops web standards. W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) focuses on making the web accessible to people with disabilities. Standards that are particularly relevant for older users include:

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
WCAG materials include guidelines and techniques for making websites and web applications work better for people with disabilities, as well as for older users with accessibility needs due to ageing.
User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG)
UAAG explains how to make web browsers and media players accessible. Browser features are particularly important to older users who have accessibility needs that should be met through browsers instead of requiring additional [assistive technologies](/WAI/planning/involving-users/#at).
Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG)
Authoring tools are used to create web content. Examples of authoring tools are HTML editors and content management systems (CMS). Websites that let users add content — such as blogs, wikis, photo sharing sites, online forums, and social networking sites — are also authoring tools. These need to be accessible so that older people can use them.

Specific Guidance on Designing for Older Users

A key resource for designers, developers, managers, researchers, and others is Developing Websites for Older People: How Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Applies. It:

Advocating and Educating

The following resources can help promote accessibility for older users.
Note: These resources have not been updated recently. Some details may be out of date, yet most of the general concepts still apply.

Developing a Web Accessibility Business Case for Your Organization
Includes the following sections that specifically apply: Overlap with Older Users' Needs and Access for Older People.
Better Web Browsing: Tips for Customizing Your Computer
Provides guidance for users on how to set your computer to work better for your specific needs and preferences so it's easier to use websites; for example, enlarging text, making the mouse pointer bigger, and using the keyboard instead of the mouse to browse websites.
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