Grey Pride: A manifesto | 19
What should happen
• Ensure all services used by older
people should be accessible
off-line, as well as on-line. The
Commissioner for Older People,
once appointed, should assess
whether they are.
• Encourage businesses and
organisations to think about
how people who are not
online can still access their
services and how to make this
information readily available to
them, such as in public libraries
or drop-in centres.
• Ensure all British companies
sign up to the international
standard for web accessibility
set out by the World Wide
Web Consortium and the
Web Accessibility Initiative.
An independent ombudsman
should enforce these
and the internet
to access those services will become
increasingly isolated. The Campaign to
End Loneliness has found that more than
800,000 people aged over 65 across the
country are often or always lonely.
Much has been made of the potential
for technology to relieve loneliness. It is
no coincidence that the relationship and
counselling service Relate has also called for
a Minister for Older People.
There is less about how the cost and
complexity of purchasing a device, getting
access to broadband and learning to use
the technology is prohibitive for many older
As Ros Coward wrote in The Guardian, "It is
ironic that these reports highlighting how the
internet can solve loneliness for the elderly
are running in parallel with reports and
academic studies warning young people not
to mistake social interaction on the internet
The Telegraph has also reported that,
despite significant increases, only 17 per
cent of UK adults aged 65-74 are using
tablets to go online.
Technology is a useful additional channel for
public services and communication. But it
cannot replace face-to-face communication.
It is also vital that the "Digital by Default"
principle leaves open a route for accessing
public services for people who will never be
able to use the internet.