exercises

10. universal design

EXERCISE 10.8 [extra - not in book]

In this chapter, we look at alternative interfaces for users with special needs. How could standard interface design be improved to provide better access to these users?

answer

This depends on the particular needs of the user, but in general the more an interface relies on a single channel (such as the visual channel) for information the more likely it is to be unusable by some people.

Multi-modality and redundancy in the interface will alleviate this problem by providing alternative views of the information and so not excluding a user group with restricted use of the primary channel.

It is more satisfactory to encourage multi-modality as a design principle than to provide special systems or 'add-ons' to cater for extra-ordinary user groups. This can also benefit the average user since it reinforces the information over several channels.
However, this may not be possible in all cases: clearly, for example, a user who has limited control of hands and voice may need special equipment such as the Eyegaze system which will track eye movements. Where possible such specialized equipment should be integrated with standard applications to enable the disabled user to use readily available machines and software in common with other users. This is particularly important in the work environment.

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