ITGS Syllabus

Friday, March 03, 2006

Topic 39

ITGS: Interfaces adapted for the disabled by Dwarkesh Iyengar

With the introduction of Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) and the advances of input/output technologies, there has been a shift of perspective, from user interface programming tools to environments for designing interaction. Many developments and implementation support is needed to facilitate user interfaces for different user groups with diverse requirements and abilities.

The concept of User Interfaces for All has been proposed as a tool to efficiently and effectively address the numerous and diverse problems related to the accessibility of interactive applications in different contexts of use. Currently, there are no development tools to practically support the construction of User Interfaces for all.

A distinction that needs to be made is the emphasis on adaptability as opposed to adaptivity. This is due to the compelling need to consider adaptations during the early design phases as otherwise no accessibility of the user interface by the target user group can be ensured. Consider for instance an adaptive user interface which can adapt certain dialogue characteristics, based on assumptions about the users drawn at run-time. Such a facility is not useful in the context of disabled user groups, because it takes no account of the fundamental problem of accessibility.

In other words, if no interaction can take place, due to some disability, no assumptions can be drawn and therefore no adaptation can be practically supported. Consequently, adaptation is concerned with both initiating and sustaining interaction. In this sense, adaptability is a pre-requisite for adaptivity, and needs to be addressed explicitly.

Web content is also currently unavailable for the disabled


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