On the poll last week regarding Elderblogger PhoneCon, Darlene noted that she would not – nay, could not - attend due to severe hearing loss. Which got me thinking…
Blogging is an excellent pursuit for elders. As we’ve noted in the past at TGB, social worlds shrink as we get older. Retirement cuts into the daily interactions with colleagues we’ve been accustomed to for decades on the job, children and grandchildren often move far away, old friends die and for some, mobility becomes an issue making it difficult to get out and make new friends.
But we meet them every day in the blogosphere, share our expertise, discuss the affairs of the world, show off photos we’ve taken, discuss books and movies and other interests - and over time real friendships are forged, connections that become as important and fulfilling as those we know in physical space. Social isolation, which can lead to loneliness, depression and physical decline, is easily overcome in the blogging world.
Another important advantage of blogging for elders is that it promotes critical, creative and analytical thinking. The old “use it or lose it” truth about our muscles applies to our brains as well, and cognitive functions are kept nimble and even improved with our daily doses of blogging.
Increasingly, audio and video are being added to the blogging experience. Not just YouTube, but individual blog posts in video and sound that sometimes are enhancements and other times are the entire blog post for the day. It broadens and enriches our stories, but Darlene’s comment reminded me that we mustn’t use them to exclude those who can’t appreciate them.
We are the rock-and-roll generations – elders like me, 60 and older, and baby boomers too – who spent way too much time in our youth and middle years attending ear-piercing rock concerts, and there is a higher incidence of hearing loss than would otherwise be statistically predictable in people our age.
So Darlene’s comment is a good reminder to use audio – alone or within video – in ways that don’t exclude those with hearing loss. If you’re posting an audio blog, remember to also post it as text. It doesn’t need to be a word-for-word transcript; it can be a summary of the important points and ideas, perhaps with a direct quote or two.
It is impossible to make everything accessible to everyone all the time. One day, there will be speech-to-text technology (and vice versa) that is reliable and affordable for everyone, but until then, we each can make the effort to include as many people as possible in our expanding blog options.