CHI14C06: Improving the user interface for people with disabilities

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Terrill Thompson

This course will explore the current state of the art in computer user interfaces (UIs) designed for people with disabilities, and will identify problems in the current models that may warrant alternative strategies. The course will begin by exploring a variety of UIs designed for people who are unable to see, hear, or use their hands, as well as those designed for people with dyslexia and other processing disabilities. Attendees will discover that the wide spectrum of available UIs makes it possible for almost anyone to use information technology. However, they will also experience examples of how this UI model breaks down when the software, document, form or website users are trying to access is designed in a way that fails to support user diversity. Current models are dependent on designers, developers, and authors to create products that are accessible, and these models are largely failing. Despite laws that require accessible design, and standards and guidelines that define it, people with disabilities still face daunting barriers that prevent them from accessing technology. This course will explore this problem in some depth, and participants will brainstorm possible solutions. This course is intended for all audiences. Everyone who designs or develops interfaces, and everyone who authors content, should be aware of how the interface or content they create affects individuals with disabilities. Attendees will learn current techniques and best practices for minimizing accessibility barriers, and will have an opportunity to contribute to the discussion regarding possible alternative solutions.

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