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Technologies and social inclusion: staying connected with reality

The diffusion and use of technology has considerable importance in relation to active ageing in the context of: information and communication (social inclusion and support for independent and assisted living), learning (life-long learning, life-wide learning and development of the intergenerational dialogue) and eHealth care (improvement of the conditions and modalities of health care). The widespread use of technology in old age is closely related to the design and implementation of tools, media and applications that are accessible and easy to use. This perspective refers to the “design for all” which deals with developing materials and support which are also targeted to the elderly population, taking into account the emerging needs, fragility and human-social-cultural resources of the people.

“Design for All is a concept which consists of three strategies: (1) Products/services and applications should be usable by as many people as possible regardless of age, ability or situation without any modifications. (2) Products should be easily adaptable to different users. (3) Products should have standardized interfaces capable of being accessed by specialized users. The concept links directly to the political concept of an inclusive society integrating all citizens into the information society. […] It is a concept that emerged from ‘barrier-free’ or ‘accessible design’  and ‘assistive technology’” (European Commission, Joint Research Centre, 2008, p. 9).

Facilitating the elderly in the use of ICT means developing training and operational tools that can generate confidence towards virtuality, which is becoming more and more connected with reality, thereby expanding the possibilities of interaction with the social context. Technology can, in fact, simplify certain actions and functions, support the independence of elderly, improve the quality of life and increase human connection and interaction.