Technology learning and use among older adults with late-life vision impairments

Anne Marie Piper*, Robin Brewer, Raymundo Cornejo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Increasing numbers of older adults are now using computers and going online. Yet, certain disabilities that are acquired later in life, such as severe vision impairments, make it difficult to use modern information and communication technologies (ICTs). Currently, we have a limited understanding of how older adults with late-life vision impairments adopt, learn, and use ICTs to communicate and seek information. To address this gap in the literature, this paper presents results from in-depth interviews with 15 older adults (age 60–99), who are low vision or blind, to understand how they use technologies to stay connected and engage online. While the older adults in this study have physical access to computers and many are motivated to explore new technologies to stay in touch, a number of barriers exist to using modern communication devices and online tools (e.g., e-mail, search, social media). Vision impairment in older adulthood presents complex challenges due to one’s changing visual abilities coupled with an evolving landscape of accessible communication technologies. Additionally, the benefits of using modern devices are juxtaposed with generational values of what is meaningful communication and the familiarity and inherent accessibility of phone communication. The paper concludes with a discussion of challenges and opportunities for the design of accessible ICT for older adults with vision impairments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)699-711
Number of pages13
JournalUniversal Access in the Information Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017


  • Accessibility
  • Information and communication technology
  • Older adults
  • Vision impairments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Information Systems
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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