Elderly concerns before census day

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A Dunedin group has raised concerns about older adults’ accessibility to the census.

The 2018 census is due to be held on March 6, and Statistics New Zealand aims to collect most of the information online.

An access code will be delivered by mail to every household in New Zealand from tomorrow.

Paper forms will be available for those who request them.

Involvement in the five-yearly census is compulsory for everyone who is in New Zealand on census day.

Dr Lynley Hood, trustee of Dunedin’s Victa group for people with low vision, said group members at a recent meeting had responded negatively to the prospect of filling in the census online.

“People were not pleased about it at all,” Dr Hood said.

“They felt that the process should be made more accessible.”

The 2013 census had found that, at age 74 years and over, the percentage of people with access to the internet dropped to 29%, compared with 92% of 15 to 64 year-olds, Dr Hood said.

“I think they may have underestimated the number of older people who are not online,” she said.

The group had also discussed the paper versions of the form, which were not available in large-print.

The standard-print version would be difficult for people with poor vision to read, Dr Hood said.

“With the ageing population in this country, these problems are going to arise more and more.

“And that means there is a risk that older people won’t be covered as they should be.”

Victa plans to give feedback during a census workshop to be held in Dunedin tomorrow.

Census communications advisor Jayne Cooper-Woodhouse said an independent accessibility audit had been conducted on the census website, along with the online census forms.

“The census website has been built to work with screen readers and assisted technology,” Ms Cooper-Woodhouse said.

Resources had been developed for people needing extra help in filling out the census, including a step-by-step guide, easy read and large-print versions of the census access code letter, and videos in New Zealand sign language. All were on the website.

Field teams would follow up after census day to help people unable to complete the form.

SeniorNet Otago will run free sessions at Green Island during the next two weeks to help people over 50 access the census. People attending the sessions will need to bring their census letter containing their access code.

SeniorNet Otago
Census 2018 help sessions, 189A Main South Rd, Green Island

February 28, 9am-noon

March 3, 9am-noon

March 5, 1.30pm-4pm

March 7, 1.30pm-4pm