Quick Glance at Universal Design in Human Computer Interaction

Universal design is the process of designing solutions which can be used by as many people as possible in as many ways in as many situations possible. Interactive systems need to be usable by anyone, with any range of abilities and in any technology platform. This can be achieved either by having redundancy or compatible with assistive technology. The aim of universal design is to provide equivalent experience to all type of users.

North Carolina State University, USA has studied and introduced 7 general principles of universal design which includes
1. Equitable use – no users excluded
2. Flexibility in use – support range of abilities and preferences through choices and adaptive according to the user
3. Simple and intuitive to use – regardless of knowledge and prior experience, level of concentration, language, provide prompting, feedback
4. Perceptible information -effective communications of information regardless of environmental conditions or user’s abilities
5. Tolerance for errors – minimize impact of damage by a mistake or unintended behavior, support to concentrate on task
6. Low physical effort – comfortable to use, low fatigue and repetitive and sustained actions avoided
7. Size and space for approach and use

Multimodal interaction is using the 3 senses; sight (graphics, text, video, animations), sound (audio, feedback), touch (tactile, haptic feedback) and utilize more than one sensory channel which will provide richer interactive experience without overloading visual channel only using methods such as verbal narratives. Rich interaction provided through redundancy. [1]

[1] A. Dix et al., “Universal Design” in Human Computer Interaction, 3rd ed. New Delhi, India : Pearson, 2012


Author: Harshani Nawarathna

Sri Lankan woman in Computing

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