Older Adults Accessibility Issue 2: Text Size and Readability
Posted by Paul Crichton Head of Accessibility on 27th June 2017.
“I wear reading glasses when I use the computer.
Even so, I still find text too small and blurry on some websites.”
Another common complaint expressed by our interview panel was the issue of text size. The underlying causes are more or less the same as those described in the colour contrast section. This is just another symptom of the wear and tear that comes as we get older.
Age-related long sightedness is a very common issue, and by the age of 65, corrective eyewear is near universal. There are other issues that become more common as we grow older too, such as cataracts, that can have an impact on our eyesight.
Eyestrain can affect us all, but it is more common in older adults. Inducing sore eyes and headaches is not the best way to endear your older users to your website.
Does your website have a problem
Although high definition displays have made it easier to read a digital serif font, it is still considered best practice to use a simpler, plainer sans serif typeface, so check to see if that is the case.
The size of the typeface is also very important to consider. To make text comfortable to read, 12pt (or the equivalent) is considered the minimum, and 14pt ideal.
Lastly, it is best to use normal sentence case as much as possible. All uppercase or lowercase text can be hard to read, as are italics.
Whilst browsers have tools to zoom or increase font size doesn’t mean you can ignore this issue. Lots of people just don’t know about these tools. We believe that website stakeholders have a responsibility to make their websites as inclusive as possible by default, without having to rely on users having any technical knowledge.
How to make things better
If you are quite technical, then looking into the Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) files associated with your web pages to see information about your typeface. This is fairly straightforward with the developer tools available on browsers.
If you prefer something a little more point-and-click, then there are tools out there to help you. WhatFont, for example, is a pretty good extension for this.
Another big factor in readability is writing style. Use plain English, and keep jargon to a minimum.
Introduction to digiboomers
If you want to find out more about the accessibility needs of older adults – digiboomers – and why they are an important demographic to cater for, complete the form, include your email address and request our introductory guide as a PDF or MS Word document.
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