Overview of “Web Accessibility for Older Users: A Literature Review”

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


Web Accessibility for Older Users: A Literature Review analyzes guidelines, professional articles, and scientific literature on the requirements of people with web accessibility needs related to ageing.

Who the Literature Review is For

The Literature Review itself is primarily for researchers and academics.

The outcomes of the Literature Review are also being used to:

What is in the Literature Review

The Literature Review summarizes:

The bulk of the Literature Review analyzes:

A finding of the Literature Review is that existing WAI guidelines address many requirements of older web users. Yet, there is little reference to the WAI guidelines in literature and guidance covering the needs of older Web users.

Summary of Impact and Prevalence

This section provides summaries from the Literature Review.

Ageing and Hearing Loss

Impact of hearing loss:

Prevalence of hearing loss:

Hearing starts to decline at around 50 years and affects a person’s ability to hear higher pitched sounds as well as discern the foreground from background audio such as music or other sounds. Some hearing loss is experienced by 47% of people 61 to 80 years and 93% of people over 81 years. Moderate or severe hearing loss or profound deafness is experienced by 20% of people aged 61 - 80 and 75% of people over 80.

Ageing and Vision Decline

Impact of vision decline:

Prevalence of significant vision lose:

Vision decline includes:

Vision decline often starts in a person’s mid-40s. 86% of Australians over 40 require reading glasses to correct for near vision. Significant vision loss (that can’t be corrected) affecting everyday life is estimated to affect 16% of people 65 to 74 years, and 46% of those over 85 years in the UK.

Ageing and Physical Decline

Impact of physical decline:

Motor skill decline can result from many conditions including arthritis, essential tremor, and Parkinson’s Disease:

Prevalence of physical decline:

Conditions most commonly reported:

Motor skill decline impacts on dexterity and can result from many conditions, for example arthritis with associated joint stiffening and reduced fine motor control, and essential tremor or Parkinson’s Disease with associated hand trembling, making mouse use difficult or impossible for some and also affecting keyboard use. In particular, older people with physical impairments may have difficulty clicking small links, selecting radio buttons, and using many fly-out or pull-down menus.

Arthritis is estimated to affect at least 50% of people over 65; essential tremor (one of many forms of tremor) is estimated to affect up to 5% of those over 40 and up to 20% of people over 65; and Parkinson’s affects around 4% of those over 85.

Ageing and Cognitive Decline

Impact of cognitive decline:

Navigation, comprehension, and task completion can be affected by:

Prevalence of cognitive decline:

Conditions most commonly reported:

Dementia (UK):

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is more common:

Cognitive decline is also common, though only dementia and mild cognitive impairment are commonly reported. While Dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease) is experienced by some older people (1.4% of people 65–69 years increasing to 24% of people over 85 years in the UK), forms of mild cognitive impairment (or MCI) are much more common, affecting over 20% of those over 70 years. MCI can result in:

Status and Technical Report Format

The Literature Review was conducted in 2008. We do not currently plan to update it. Most of the information is still relevant.

The Literature Review follows the W3C format for technical reports that includes several sections at the beginning: links to different versions, editors, copyright, abstract, and status.

Who Developed the Literature Review

The Literature Review was developed by the Education and Outreach Working Group (EOWG), with support of the WAI-AGE Project.

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