Universal design is the process of designing products so that they can be used by as many people as possible in as many situations as possible. In our case, this means particularly designing interactive systems that are usable by anyone, with any range of abilities, using any technology platform. This can be achieved by designing systems either to have built-in redundancy or to be compatible with assistive technologies
Universal Design Principles
In the late 1990s, a group at North Carolina State University in the USA proposed seven general principles of universal design. These were intended to cover all areas of design and are equally applicable to the design of interactive systems. These principles give us a framework in which to develop universal designs. Let’s see what are these principles.
Flexibility in use
The system be simple and intuitive to use
Tolerance for error
Low physical effort
Size and Space for approach and use
These seven principles give us a good starting point in considering universal design. They are not all equally applicable to all situations, of course.
As previous we said, providing access to information through
more than one mode of interaction is an important principle of universal design, Such design relies on multi-modal interaction. There are five senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell.
These all consider how each mode can be used to create richer interaction and provide redundancy. Now we look at some of the alternative modes of human-computer communication, concentrating particularly on sound, touch, handwriting, and gesture.
o Sound in the interface
Sound is an important contributor to usability. There is experimental evidence to suggest that the addition of audio confirmation of modes, in the form of changes in keyclicks, reduces errors. There are two types of sound that we can use in applications. They are, speech and non-speech.
o Touch in the interface
Touch is the only sense that can be used to both send and receive information. Although it is not yet widely used in interacting with computers, there is a significant research effort in this area and commercial applications are becoming available. The use of touch in the interface is known as haptic interaction. At present, the hardware needed to support haptic interaction is prohibitively expensive for most users. But this is liable to change as the applications become more widespread and commercially viable.
o Handwriting recognition
handwriting to be a very natural form of communication. The idea of being able to interpret handwritten input is very appealing, and handwriting appears to offer both textual and graphical input using the same tools.
o Gesture recognition
The gesture is also a very important sensor in usability. Through some simple gestures, it is easy to handle an application. Also, this is very helpful for people who have hearing loss and translating problems. But gestures different from person to person. There can be huge differences in people’s gestures for the same idea. Technologies that we used to identify gestures cost more. They are very expensive. But through most of these technologies, designers can have a lot of information about usability experience.
Designing Interfaces for diversity
As I mentioned earlier also, there is a huge diversity among users and we have to design our applications that can use many of them. Therefore, we have to consider their diversity at different levels and find new ways of how all users can have that ability to use applications. Here I consider three main areas briefly that matter most.
1) Disabilities -
There are people who have disability problems. But now in most of the fields, they can also work without worrying about these disabilities. When it comes to visual situations, it is very difficult to overcome that problem because of the usability of applications. However, touch-typing and brail mechanisms become more helpful in this problem. For hearing impairment, email and instant messaging options can be used. People who have physical impairments in their hands will affect usability. Because they can have problems using mouse also. Speech input-output option, track eye control for cursor behavior are good options to overcome that problem. To help people with speech impairments, designers have introduced many tools.
2) Age groups -
The usability of a system becomes very different when we compare it with age groups. Older people get more time to understand technological things. But children understand them very quickly. They have the ability to identify the behavior of a particular application quickly. Also, children and youth like to have more colors and interactive things in applications. But older people may not have that type of interest. Considering the age group also we can design an application interface according to their choices and abilities.
3) Cultures -
Culture is made from things around people. The above two factors also reasoning for this. According to language, cultural symbols, gestures, colors, pictures people going to decide websites or applications. Therefore, designers should more careful in considering this area. Because sometimes people can have the wrong intention about your application if you do not use those components in the correct way.
Human-Computer Interaction — Third edition — Alan Dix, Janet Finlay, Gregory D. Abowd, Russell Beale
In all three articles, I briefly consider only three sub-topics in human-computer interaction. Hope you get an idea from this article series.You can find more details about these topics.