Accessible Computing and User-Centred UI Design
Is technology being developed beneficial to all or in simple terms is it be accessible by all?
New technologies are being developed all over the world for benefit of people. But one of the important aspects to talk about it that is the technology being developed reaching all.
This is the new age of technology. For those who belong to this current generation, its a big boon as the new technologies are making lives of a lot easier. But if we talk about people of the previous generation, are they getting the benefit of the current technologies? Is technology being developed beneficial to all or in simple terms is it be accessible by all?
Access to technology is has been hampered by the short-sightedness on the part of designers and although the this is changing as more and more research is being done on the user-centred design but the situation is still the same up to a considerable extent. Older people they not only suffer from visual impairments but also intellectual impairments and since they have a reduced capacity of learning, they are often not willing to spend time on new technologies and hence they are not very open to accepting new technologies. There is a divide between those who can actually access and benefit from technologies and those who do not or cannot access it.
The design should be more focused on the needs and requirements of the user. There is still a lot to be done to make technologies accessible to all sets of users. This should include more emphasis on supporting cognitive dysfunction, providing computer systems which are accessible to those with mild cognitive dysfunction as well as developing systems to support people with major cognitive dysfunction. Researchers should not only consider what older users are perceived to need, but also what they want. Further, they should provide accessible computing in a way which is aesthetically pleasing as well as effective.
Until not recently, the user interface design was only the responsibility of the developer. But with time, people realised that user interface design is not just a responsibility of the developer; rather, it is a collective responsibility of a team because it needs to be user-centred. Different sets of user have different requirements. It is very important to anticipate and understand those needs before developing any application. Designers must be educated on how to operate when the user base may contain older or disabled people because they have a very specific set of requirements .In order to ensure the development of genuinely usable technology for a wide range of users, a change of culture is required.
For instance, people with dementia have very specific requirements. While designing applications for healthcare, it is essential that the application is designed by a team not only consisting of developers but also various healthcare staff related to that field of work and if possible people suffering as well, as only this would ensure that the application is designed keeping in mind the actual requirements or needs of the user, the user-centred design should be given utmost priority while developing such applications. Developers need to know to understand the problems fully and think from the point of view of end-users and only then will the requirements of the application can be anticipated and worked upon.
Ideally, this should be an iterative design process, where the final users contribute with their knowledge and experience to develop a product that can be adapted to meet their own needs in a user-friendly manner. However, while these technologies have the potential to facilitate this approach, there are many challenges and barriers to successful implementation.