Web Accessibility Support for Aging Populations
This blog post is part of a series of posts discussing the Business Case for Web Accessibility. In order to get a full view of the Business Case for Web Accessibility, I encourage you to read all posts in this series, links to which can be found at the bottom of this post.
The “Silver Tsunami” is a term coined by the SSA which refers to the 72,000,000 retiring or soon-to-retire baby boomers. Baby Boomers account for 48% of US families and have over $2,000,000,000 in buying power. If you consider that the rate of disabilities increases drastically as people age [PDF] there appears to be a strong business case for accessibility here.
- Does it increase income? Yes. Ostensibly, a site that is accessible will be better for seniors who, in turn, would be more likely to spend money/ time on a website.
- Does save money? No. The argument here is about the buying power of seniors
- Does it mitigate risk? Sort of. Again, in terms of not losing business to a more accessible competitor.
- How strong is the evidence? Semi-strong. The argument implies that Seniors will spend more money on sites that support them. The data about the buying power of seniors is real. The challenge is in proving that seniors will be more likely to buy from sites they can use. While this seems logical, I don’t know of real data to back it up.
According to Pew Research:
- 66% of wired seniors had done product research online
- 47% of online seniors had bought something on the Internet
- 41% had made travel reservations online
It seems pretty clear that there’s a real ROI behind making a site more user-friendly for seniors. Exactly how much (vs. not being senior-friendly) is not clear to me, but given the option I’d prefer to ensure my site worked well for seniors. Excellent information exists on how to make your website more senior-friendly. To realize ROI, such efforts should be backed by a marketing campaign aimed at seniors.