City Research Online

The Harm in Conflating Aging with Accessibility

Knowles, B., Hanson, V., Rogers, Y. , Piper, A. M., Waycott, J., Davies, N., Ambe, A., Brewer, R. N., Chattopadhyay, D., Deepak-Gopinath, M., Gutierrez-Lopez, M., Jelen, B., Lazar, A., Nielek, R., Pena, B. B., Roper, A. ORCID: 0000-0001-6950-6294, Schlager, M., Schulte, B. & Yuan, Y. (2021). The Harm in Conflating Aging with Accessibility. Communications of the ACM, 64(7), pp. 66-71. doi: 10.1145/3431280

Abstract

"The quest for youth—so futile. Age and wisdom have their graces too."— Jean Luc Picard

It is an increasingly global phenomenon that societies promote the notion of youth as the preferred state.a In stark contrast to the "wise elder" of ages past, today old age is assumed to be marked by loss of physical and cognitive ability, diminished relevance, and as we are sadly seeing with the COVID-19 pandemic, devalued humanity.18 In many ways, it is not surprising that such stereotypes are reflected in our technologies: tech companies compete for territory in an already overcrowded youth market; whereas older adults,b if considered users at all, are offered little more than fall alarms, activity monitors, and senior-friendly (often lower functionality) versions of existing tools. Meanwhile, there is a growing trend of workers aging out of the tech industry as early as their mid-40s,17 reflecting the higher value placed on the perspectives of those who represent the default target demographic.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © the authors | ACM 2020. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here for your personal use. Not for redistribution. The definitive Version of Record is to be published in Communications of the ACM (https://cacm.acm.org/magazines/2020/11)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Computer Science
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