Touch and Usability
03 Jul 2008

Touch and Usability

03 Jul 2008

Based on this week’s talk of the rising importance of universal design, one may ponder whether this trend is actually real and to what extent it has manifested itself in daily life. Are products really easier and more accessible for everyone?

Although I think the global trend is moving in the right direction for the most part, there are areas of concern. Awareness of accessibility is up, and design processes are being adjusted to accommodate ease of use, but are our products universally usable? David N Wallace, an IT coordinator who has first-hand experience with living with a disability, writes about the concerning trend around touch technologies in physical devices.

Wallace writes:

Boiled down to its most base level it’s about access and in this instance the barrier to access that the proliferation of skin-based touch devices brings with it. I’m specifically talking about touch devices that require skin to work.

[…] Barriers aren’t new to me and neither is finding ways around, over or through them. But what’s different is the pervasive nature of “touch” technology of today. Here’ an exercise, try and find a laptop that doesn’t use a touch pad or that has an alternate input method.

He goes on to write about possible solutions and existing experiments. More than anything he encourages us all to think about accessibility even further at the design phase from both the hardware and software front. This is not to say that touch technology is ineffectual or does not have its place, but we need to recognize that it remains an open challenge at being truly accessible.

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  1. Dave July 13th, 2008 8:45PM

    Hi. I think you make a good point that touch technology is not ineffectual or have its place. An inversion approach that looks at what a proposed design cannot do rather than a focus on what it can will yeild surprises.

    Thanks for the link.

    Dave – Lifekludger

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