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The online world cannot leave older LGBTI users behind

SPONSORED: Ahead of this year’s Digital Pride, Freda Jones and Joshua Whitehead of Fujitsu look at the importance of creating senior-friendly technology

The online world cannot leave older LGBTI users behind
Pixabay | Public Domain
Technology needs to be user-friendly for people of all ages

How does using the newest technology affect the oldest user?

As technology evolves and develops, so must our ability to use the latest innovative products so that they still suit and enhance our daily lifestyles. But this begs the question; can older generations keep up with this fast track approach to technology and the new pace of digital change?

By taking a human-centric approach to innovation, technology can be used to benefit, not baffle, all ages and communities.

Digital inclusion

The evolution of digital technology and the effect that it may have on the aging population is often a neglected topic but it must be acknowledged that technology has a profound implict on the older generation’s quality of life.

LGBT communities are particularly affected by this as it is online where most of the support networks and information helplines are found.

From ensuring older people are not excluded from the benefits of technology to rethinking technology for senior lifestyles, the agenda for innovation is long and diverse and it is vital to ensure that people of all ages, wherever they may be, become ‘Digital by Default’.

The number of people over 60 is now expected to be 22% of the world population by 2050. As our population is becoming more diverse and inclusive, the mediums of information around us and the platforms upon which this information is made available must evolve too.

There are growing numbers of social groups specifically for older lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people found online and although this does provide an excellent platform for LGBT communities, it also brings its own set of issues as older people may not be aware of the importance of online security and how to store personal details.

As the population of the UK ages there is still a significant number of older people who are not up to date with modern technology.

Methods of finding information surrounding LGBT communities, social activities, and helplines, without using digital means are now rare.

Therefore, an education in digital usability and functionality for the older generation is even more imperative in LGBT communities where people may have the confidence to be more vocal online about issues that affect LGBT people than they would be on other more face-to-face platforms.

As society and services move to this ‘Digital by Default’ ideal, ensuring that people are not left behind in later life is crucial to creating a truly human-centric intelligent society.

Supporting good health

Health also becomes a more important and considered factor for all of us as we grow older and at Fujitsu we are using the latest in innovative technology to improve our quality of lives as we age.

Fujitsu has designed a chip the size of a grain of sand which can be contained inside a tablet and once swallowed has the ability to diagnose whether we are taking the correct drug doses, measure our sleep patterns, and even monitor our glucose levels.

This information can be monitored using a simple app downloaded onto a mobile phone, providing peace of mind and improving quality of life for older patients.

Fujitsu have recently collaborated with Age UK, to learn about how technology can play a vital role in mitigating the impact of an aging society.

Fujitsu has undertaken a project in Ireland that is working to improve the quality of elderly care. This technology uses up to 110 sensors in one’s home that can stream data in real time.

This will enable people to remain self-sufficient whilst ensuring that their health does not have to be compromised by their independence. These systems will also trigger appropriate and informative messages to carers when necessary.

Older people within the LGBT community are particularly vulnerable when it comes to access to care and this new technology is particularly useful within the transgender population.

We are only now seeing the first generation of transgender people in their 60’s and over who have taken hormone therapy and undergone gender reassignment surgery in a time where medicine used very different techniques than they do now.

Therefore, using the latest technology can have a very positive effect on monitoring the effects in later life that these procedures may have.

Becoming Digital by Default

Ultimately, it is technology companies that must take a lead in the ‘Digital by Default’ venture to educate and support older people.

The older generation should be shown how to embrace technology, not be ostracized by it. By taking a human-centric approach to innovation, we can ensure that the medium of technology becomes a platform and an advocate for good health, inclusion, and ensuring that no individual, community, or age group will be left behind in the digital evolution.

On Thursday 27 April from 5-6.30pm, as part of Digital Pride, Fujitsu will be hosting a global panel discussion on LGBT Inclusion in the Digital Age, chaired by Dr Sue Black (OBE).


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