March 30th, 2008 by Judith
Folks in their 50’s are one of the fastest growing populations in this county. Statistics show that by 2010, one and three Americans will be over 50. With that said, this demographic is shaping the way we all live our lives with their activism (see AARP) and clout for making their daily activities easier not for the aging but for everyone.
Case in point, is the universal design poster-child –the curb cut-out. A curb cut-out is a ramp in a sidewalk that allows a person in a wheelchair to access a sidewalk. Curb-cut outs were designed for a specific population in mind yet we all benefit from this sidewalk fixture. Whether you are rolling a suitcase down the street or a stroller, we all look for cut-outs to make the transition from street to sidewalk smoother and safer.
Yet another example of design improvements that are specific to population but is beneficial to all, is the notion of getting a business certified as “Elder Friendly”. Certain shops in my community have the signs posted in the windows notifying area seniors that they meet certain criteria that makes shopping or dining pleasant for specific age group. This means that aisles are wider to accommodate walkers or canes. The lighting is brighter and price tags feature larger print for the sight challenged. This certification also includes the customer service by rating the helpfulness of the staff whether in person or on the phone. Improving the quality of service for a specific population naturally improves the lives of all who patronize an “Elder Friendly” business. You don’t have to be of a “certain age” to like helpful staff or find wider aisles easier to navigate.