Sunday, January 31, 2016

"The Digital Age Is Perfect For Universal Design"

So many things that we use today are digital in their nature, such as cell phones, TVs, clocks, appliances, and thermostats. Very few items that we use are analog anymore. Thus, the term "digital age" certainly seems to apply.

With the coming, and now arrival, of so many digital products, aging-in-place has become so much more convenient. Even with weaker eyesight as we age, we can still tell what time it is or what the temperature is without trying to read or interpret the hands on a clock or the setting on a thermostat.

This phenomenon isn't just about older people or weaker eyesight. it is actually true for everyone - even children. While a four-year old may not be able to interpret the setting on a dial-type mercury switched thermostat or be able to understand what time it is on a clock with a face, numbers, and movable hands, they quite possibly can "read" a digital thermostat or digital clock. As long as they have learned their basic numbers, can recognize what the numbers are when they see them, and can repeat aloud what they are seeing, a small child can use digital technology. They don't need to understand what 72 degrees on the thermostat means in terms of how comfortable that is or isn't or that a clock displaying 4-4-5 is actually 4:45 or nearly 5:00.

In addition to the thermostat and clock, we have digital displays on the microwave, on refrigerators with water and ice in the door, on dishwashers, and on newer washers and dryers. There are digital controls for regulating water temperatures in the bath or shower, for recording and playback TV shows on DVRs, for tuning and watching television programming, and for car radios and those in the home.

Except for people who still have a cassette tape recorder or VHS recorder to play prerecorded audio cassettes and videos, or for those who still might have a turntable to play phonograph records, the music that we listen to on CDs, the radio, or online is digital. Our computers are digital also.

Nearly everyone has a cell phone, and they are all digital.

So, regardless of our age - from quite young to very senior - the digital age has impacted all of us. This is one areas that has made aging-in-place so successful because we have the ability to monitor and regulate appliances and systems in our homes, as well as entertain ourselves by watching TV, listening to the radio or music channels, and using our telephones.

Universal design includes many components, features, and elements that employ digital technology or displays - such as those already mentioned. Aging-in-place, therefore, is considerably easier and more pleasant when we have such digital appliances and devices in our homes.


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Steve HoffackerCAPS, MCSP, MIRM, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.