Think about the accessible features or customer service practices businesses have (or could have). See how effective they can be in welcoming older customers, whether or not they have disabilities. Here are a few features to consider:
• Many older adults with diminished heart and lung functions and reduced mobility will have placards or license plates for accessible parking. When parking is near the main door of the facility, these patrons have strength left after entering your business to shop, enjoy entertainment, or eat heartily.
• Clear, wide paths without stairs to the establishment’s entrance and throughout the business leave room for canes and walkers and accommodate people with reduced mobility and stamina.
• Minimum-weight doors with accessible hardware are easily opened by people who have arthritis or use a cane for extra balance. For heavier doors, automatic and power-assisted openers are helpful to everyone.
• Entrances and aisles with adequate head clearance and minimal projections into the path of travel result in easier navigation for people with lessened visual acuity or those who may be disoriented by clutter.
• Bright, glare-free lighting on merchandise and pathways enable people with cataracts or aging eyes to shop and make purchases more easily.
• Precise directional and informational signage in high-contrast colors with clear, large type and good lighting make shopping more comfortable for people with diminished short-term memory or vision loss.
• Assistive listening systems that are easily and discreetly obtained along with ushers who speak distinctly and at proper volume provide great help for people who are beginning to lose their hearing and may or may not use hearing aids.
• Captioning on promotional, special event, and exhibition videos for people with hearing loss or cognitive changes ensure the message is not lost in the ambient sound and music.
• Printed programs, advertisements, and brochures with large, clear type, in high contrast colors on solid backgrounds on satin- or matte-finish paper are more legible for people with vision changes due to age.
• Websites designed to be visually accessible with text written clearly and simply, including only relevant images and explicit navigational instructions, make interested but less-seasoned older adult web users comfortable enough to shop and purchase online. (6)
Older adults may have patronized a business for years or they may be brand new customers. If the establishment does nothing to accommodate the physical and cognitive changes they are experiencing, they may not be back. It makes good business sense to comply with the ADA and welcome the expanding market of older adults and people with disabilities.
For more information about the ADA and business, visit the Department of Justice ADA Business Connection at www.ada.gov. Or, call the toll-free ADA Information Line:
800-514-0301 (voice) or 800-514-0383 (TTY)
Expanding Your Market: Accessibility Benefits Older Adult Customers (PDF version)
1. U.S. Census Bureau, “Interim Projections of the Population by Selected Age Groups for the United States and States: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2030,” 21 April 2005, <www.census.gov/population/projections/summaryTabB1.pdf> (30 January 2006).
2. Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics, “Older Americans 2004: Key Indicators of Well-Being,” Modified 13 January 2005, <www.agingstats.gov/chartbook2004/economics.html> (1 February 2006).
3. William D. Novelli, “How Aging Boomers Will Impact American Business,” Speech given at meeting of The Wisemen, The Harvard Club, New York, NY, 21 February 2002, <www.aarp.org/about_aarp/aarp_leadership/on_issues/baby_boomers/
how_aging_boomers_will_impact_business.html> (2 February 2006).
4. Deloitte and Touche USA LLP, “Wealth with Wisdom: Serving the Needs of Aging Consumers,” January 2006, <www.deloitte.com/dtt/cda/doc/content/US_CB_wealthwithwisdom_0106.pdf> (26 January 2006).
5. U.S. Census Bureau, “Disability Status: 2000,” March 2003,
<www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/c2kbr-17.pdf> (2 February 2006).
6. National Institute on Aging and National Library of Medicine, “Making Your Web Site Senior Friendly,” Revised September 2002, <www.nlm.nih.gov/pubs/checklist.pdf> (15 February 2006).
The Americans with Disabilities Act authorizes the Department of Justice (the Department) to provide technical assistance to individuals and entities that have rights or responsibilities under the Act. This document provides informal guidance to assist you in understanding the ADA and the Department's regulations.
This guidance document is not intended to be a final agency action, has no legally binding effect, and may be rescinded or modified in the Department's complete discretion, in accordance with applicable laws. The Department's guidance documents, including this guidance, do not establish legally enforceable responsibilities beyond what is required by the terms of the applicable statutes, regulations, or binding judicial precedent.
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