10. universal design


What are (i) auditory icons and (ii) earcons? How can they be used to benefit both visually-impaired and sighted users?

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(i) Auditory icons: use real-world sounds in structured ways to present information about objects and actions in the user interface. They rely heavily on the user making the associations between the sounds and the objects and actions they represent. Metaphors are used as the basis for these associations.

(ii) Earcons: use musical tones in structured sequences to present abstract information about objects and actions in the user interface. The individual tones are combined into motives, which are combined into earcons. These earcons can be single, compound or parallel.

Earcons and auditory icons can assist blind users in identifying screen objects. As they move the mouse over an object they hear its sound. The sounds can also be identified with actions, allowing blind users to choose the correct action - and can support navigation by providing positional information.

They can assist sighted users by providing redundant information for clarity and impact, by providing information when attention is focused elsewhere, and for confirmation of status and navigation.

Other exercises in this chapter

ex.10.1 (tut), ex.10.2 (tut), ex.10.3 (tut), ex.10.4 (tut), ex.10.5 (tut), ex.10.6 (tut), ex.10.7 (tut), ex.10.8 (ans), ex.10.9 (tut), ex.10.10 (tut)

all exercises for this chapter