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Several screens showing websites and apps. Bubbles float around them with icons like calendar, chat, and shopping cart.

If you’re in the accessibility industry but not using accessible devices for your personal use, that doesn’t mean you won’t be doing so in the future.  The older you get the more likely it is that some of the technology gadgets you currently use with ease will become more difficult to use.

Thanks to advances in medicine, people are living longer lives.  However, there are still certain age related issues that are difficult to avoid.  One of the first symptoms, usually beginning in the mid to late forties, is that individuals without former vision problems find that smaller text becomes a lot harder to read.  In time, even an arm’s length isn’t quite long enough to read the menu.  As age progresses, decreased vision is just one of the problems that a person might encounter.  Other types of issues that can begin to limit one’s abilities relate to mobility, coordination, dexterity, and hearing.

Despite these changing abilities, this growing group of people who are used to all of their technical gadgets won’t suddenly forgo them.  It is this growing consumer base that some companies are recognizing, especially in the field of cell phones.

Aging is a progression and the needs of the aging also changes.  For someone just starting to have problems with reading small text, a cell phone with the ability to display larger text that can be read without glasses might become more appealing.  These types of cell phones can range from phones with larger physical keys, to phones with big screens that can display larger numbers and letters (i.e. the Samsung Galaxy Note with a screen size of 5.3 inches).

Vision is not the only problem that affects the aging.  As time passes, other issues might appear.  Arthritis, for example, can make holding a small phone and pressing small keys difficult.  Hearing loss and fine motor control can also become a problem.  The phones geared toward the elderly take these issues into consideration and focus on ways to address the needs of the elderly in the following ways:

  • Vision – large text, screens with good contrast
  • Mobility – security feature such as an SOS button
  • Coordination – large buttons
  • Dexterity – ergonomic design
  • Hearing – enhanced volume, adjustable tone

The following phones are some of the ones on the market that address one or more of the issues faced by the elderly:

As the aging population becomes a larger and more vocal consumer base, companies will provide more options in the area of cell phones as well as other technical devices.  Such a trend will benefit not only the elderly, but others living with disabilities as well.