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The need for web accessibility is growing as age-related disabilities are on the rise
June 1, 2023
As an agency, you probably sit through many conversations with clients who have misconceptions about people with disabilities. It’s likely that your clients, who own businesses and websites, might be unaware that a large portion of the population will live with a disability at some point in their life.
Most people think that everyone with a disability was born with it, or acquired it from a life-changing injury. In reality, most people develop a disability over the course of their lifetime, especially as they continue to age. This is why web accessibility needs to be looked at as an inclusive practice that prepares your clients’ websites for the future, while also making their products and services available now to those who already have disabilities.
Let’s look at the numbers
About 16% of the population as a whole currently lives with a disability. 30- 60% of the disability community are people over age 65 who live with a disability. So as people without disabilities get older, they are more likely to become people with disabilities. Since life expectancy is longer, that means the percentage of the population that has disabilities will continue to increase. That’s a significant reason to prioritize a web accessibility solution for your client’s websites.
Older adults (much like younger adults) spend a considerable amount of time on the internet, making purchases and connections online. Agencies and their clients need to ensure that website access is not disrupted for them as they age and need different accessibility features. The need for web accessibility is increasing not just as a current demand, but for the future.
Disabilities that develop at high rates
Global government bodies, like the United Nations and the Center for Disease and Health Control, have spent researching how prevalent disability becomes in old age. When speaking with your clients regarding the pressing need for web accessibility, now and later, you can share with them the following numbers:
1. For those countries whose residents have a life expectancy of over 70 years, people live with a disability for over 11% of their lifetime.
2. Americans aged 85 and older represent more than 13% of the total older population and account for 25% of those living with a disability.
3. In the United Kingdom, just 17% of the disability community is born with a disability. The majority develop at least one later in life.
4. The most common disabilities developed in old age are related to mobility; data on muscle loss in the aging population is rapidly increasing and has been proven it to be involved in the development of older individuals’ mobility disabilities.
How can your clients prepare their websites now for a more inclusive future?
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines have clear parameters for designing a website to be accessed and navigated by aging users with disabilities. According to the WCAG, age-related disabilities impact website use due to:
- Vision loss: Reduced contrast sensitivity, color perception, and near-focus make it hard to read the content on a website or its pages
- Mobility changes: Declined dexterity and fine motor control are barriers to using a mouse or keyboard
- Hearing loss: Video, music, or other audio becomes difficult to hear and can disrupt multimedia content consumption
- Decreased cognition: Short-term memory, difficulty focusing, and becoming distracted deter the completion of online tasks
When integrating a website accessibility tool into your client's websites, you need to make sure that it can meet the needs of any user, regardless of ability. You can choose to go the native route and design an accessible website at the source code, or you can implement an automatic solution like accessWidget that provides ongoing accessibility maintenance and customization for different disabilities. Tools like this meet WCAG criteria for digital accessibility and ensure that aging individuals with developing disabilities can continuously customize a website according to their needs each time they log on to a website.
Choosing the right method for your clients’ websites will do more than just include people with age-related disabilities online, though; it will also open a new customer base and let the world know your client’s brand is inclusive. Inclusion is the key to business growth in today’s digital world, and considering the age-related disability community, alongside the other disability communities, will only maximize business success while doing the right thing for all. You see, implementing web accessibility is forward-thinking in every aspect of the term.
The future of web accessibility is now
We need to start thinking about the future of your clients’ websites and their availability to people with disabilities by taking action in the present. Web accessibility is crucial for everyone, not just those who have a physical or invisible disability right now. Get ahead of the curb and make sure that your clients’ sites are open to everyone so as we progress through more advanced stages of the digital age, we can ensure that accessibility is taken care of and the entire population is included online.
Are you wondering where your clients' websites stand in terms of accessibility? Find out in just a few seconds now and learn where you need to get started.