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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

accessibility standards.

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

people.

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

with friendship."

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.

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