A new report by PIF member Texthelp and YouGov explores the experiences of people over 50 as services went 'digital by default' during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The whitepaper, Improving Online Accessibility for the Silver Surfer, sourced responses from 2,031 people.

It found one in four people over 50 faced problems accessing products and services online during lockdown.

Usability problems were experienced across healthcare, retail, financial and public service websites. Of those that experienced an accessibility barrier:

  • Almost a third (31%) had trouble knowing what to do or click on
  • More than one in ten (12.5%) faced issues with broken links
  • 63% felt simpler visual layouts would improve a website
  • 20% said bigger text would be preferred
  • 22% wanted words and instructions that were easier to understand

The report says we risk leaving those who experience challenges ‘locked out’ of critical services. 

It calls for accessibility to be prioritised across every industry.

Continuing 'digital-first' post lockdown

Despite the challenges, 56% of respondents plan to continue using online services as much as they did during lockdown:

  • Almost a third (30.93%) will continue to use online services for accessing healthcare
  • Almost two thirds (64%) will continue to access banking or financial tools digitally
  • 40% will continue to access information from their local authority online
  • Almost a third (31%) will continue to buy groceries online
  • 44% will continue to browse and buy lifestyle goods online

The report includes recommendations on how to address accessibility for the growing demographic of older internet users.

Its publication was supported by Citizens Online, Monzo, Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, PIF and the Department for Work and Pensions.

Click here to register to receive the full report for free from Texthelp.