Sunday, January 31, 2016

Visioning

The Pew Research people tell us that  the 75.3 million Millennials will overtake the 74.9 million Boomers starting this year. But those born between 1981 and 1997 will experience the very same challenges as those born between 1946 and 1964.  Japan, the US, China, Greece, and Germany are all projected to have over 22% of their population aged 65 or more by 2020.

The more important question will be whether future generations learn anything from the experiences of the Boomers, because Millennials will age just like Boomers.

They too will experience vision limitations, hearing problems (probably to an even greater degree given their preferences for loud music), as well as physical disabilities.  So, will we start to put solutions into place with input from Boomers or will we stall until Millennials hit the tarmac and need these very same innovations?

Let's just look at vision issues created by our tradition print media. Magazines and newspapers are digging their own graves with both print and online versions. This day's delivery brings an alumni/ae magazine with mention of interesting innovations in brain research.  Sorry guys, Boomers can't read it.  Your editors are so cute: they think printing in an orange and yellow font on white or light grey backgrounds are "cute". It's as good as invisible.

It's like green print on a brown background to the colorblind. And by the way, there are about 8% of all men who are colorblind compared to about 1 out of 200 women. Even worse are the columns of text in white font against an orange or yellow background. Then there's the more exciting pages with a full black background and text in purple, blue, or green. What ARE you people thinking? Did you test this stuff with anyone or did you just assume that any color is good color?

Well, you're wrong. It's illegible at best and painful at worst. All of today's magazines print in Arial or Helvetica font - skinny and small at 10 or 11 point. Look at some of the research about the softening effects of serif lettering. And consider occasional emboldening.

If you are a newspaper, try to put a little more ink on the pads, cheapskates! And on the Comics, why are you putting black lettering on green or purple backgrounds? And why are you so cheap that you can't spread the comics over two pages and give a little room to each comic panel instead of cramming them all into one page?

Do you get any feedback on your print media from focus groups? Or don't you care? If you DID care, you might actually consider coming out with a large print version. At least you would stop the worst of the poor quality print display.  Please!!!

Perhaps this is a topic for a new alumni/a  magazine issue - one that recognizes the challenges of vision faced by aging populations.

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