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Re: Elderly and self identification as having a disability


From: David Sloan
Date: May 24, 2016 3:07PM

Hi Jim, all

I agree with the general perception that older adults may not self-identify as having a disability. This may be for a variety of reasons:

* age related capability change is slow and gradual. So people may not be aware of the extent of the decline in visual acuity, dexterity or specific cognitive capabilities. Capability may also change over short term, which means someone's accessibility needs may vary from one day to another
* There's perceived stigmatisation of acknowledging that someone's capability have declined with age, and a resulting resistance to identify as having a disability or access need.

Having said that, stigmatisation is related to normalisation of accessibility solutions. So, for example, something that lots of people seem to do, like turn on captions, or use pinch-to-zoom on a tablet, may be accessibility features that older adults are also more likely to use. They're seen as popular features that make something easier to use (as opposed to "making it accessible").

But AT that are visually distinct, like ergonomic mice, or introduce a complex new mode of interaction, like a screen reader, might be less popular and well accepted.

The WAI-AGE project researched the overlap between web accessibility for people with disabilities and web accessibility for older adults, and the literature review has some very useful links (a few years old now).

My former colleague Sergio Sayago has also done a lot of interesting ethnographic research with older technology users, with some interesting findings on attitude to technology:

Hope this helps

David Sloan

UX Research Lead
The Paciello Group

> On 24 May 2016, at 16:00, Gillen, Lori < <EMAIL REMOVED> > wrote:
> Hi Jim-
> I'm not sure this is relevant but it is my hope that people in my company self-identify as having a disability so that they can reach out for the help they need to do their job to their optimum capacity. I think that I may be planting some seeds, but for the most part those with invisible disabilities, such as depression and other mental illnesses still have a stigma. Perhaps that is what is going on with the elderly. They came from a time when no one talks about those subjects, or maybe they are in denial about getting old and the disabilities that come with it.
> Lori Gillen
> Specialist Technical Writer
> McKesson Corporation
> Newton, MA
> -----Original Message-----
> From: WebAIM-Forum [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ] On Behalf Of Jim Allan
> Sent: Tuesday, May 24, 2016 10:32 AM
> To: WAI-IG; WebAIM Discussion List
> Subject: [WebAIM] Elderly and self identification as having a disability
> Hello,
> I have used, written, and repeated what I thought was a truism, but I don't recall when I first heard this ...
> Some/many elderly (aged) folks do not self identify as having a disability, they respond that they are just old and things don't work as well as they used to.
> Based on conversations with elderly relatives and others (aged and people in the disability field)...I found this to be true. Perhaps it was the way the question was asked.
> Be that as it may, I was trying to verify/research this truism. When I searched on "self identification" and other terms -- of course I found forms to self-identify, demographics, services, etc. all about folks who have self-identified.
> What I could not find is anything that verifies that elderly do not self identify because in their view they are not disabled, they are just old.
> There may other subsets of folks who would/could be considered disabled but for whatever reason choose not to self-identify.
> Do you have any insight/ideas...anything?
> --
> Jim Allan, Accessibility Coordinator
> Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
> 1100 W. 45th St., Austin, Texas 78756
> voice 512.206.9315 fax: 512.206.9264 http://cp.mcafee.com/d/5fHCNAq6x0SyMUMzuXb8USrhhjhupjvvhdEEFELcFKcECPpISHoHZalxOVKV1Bwlhd7bG0HqP9EVR51Al8eTo5m3hPX0GqevjQlZRCZJKqei3XW1ISrdCM0kW43cKZ1L3o4ild40wuvI3h0qf16iKDDX05jEgcOXQ6PhYrvd7bapIQJwbV0g3hIQKCy0qfg-9VoQgr10QgkYZQQgig-4VeOJIVlwq8dEq82uCpg8Cy3jh0xaCA97OCmdKcCQPrNKVJUSyrh
> "We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us." McLuhan, 1964 > > > > > > >