More work needs to be done

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More work needs to be done


(HCI) and User Experience (UX) draw on a multidisciplinary base of psychology, computing, design, art and increasingly social and organisational fields. As technology becomes increasingly ubiquitous and pervasive, we now experience technology as a fundamental fabric of our social lives. As technology developments today accelerate, there is a need for interface designers to take into account users with intellectual disabilities to order to avoid their exclusion from the information society

Designing ICT tools for people with intellectual disabilities is challenging. Unfortunately, there are a considerably small number of research projects and publications referring to the use of instructional technologies by users with intellectual disability and their exclusion from the information society. More work needs to be done in this area. International conferences like the International Conference on Computers Helping People with Special Needs (Miesenberger et al, 2014) show a growing interest in the topic. However, the number of researches with a focus on designing and developing suitable applications for people with intellectual disabilities remains low in comparison with other, mostly physical, disabilities. This is the main theme, or problem which this innovative project intends to address.


Findings from HCI research tell us that artefacts that successfully transform lives and societies are those are designed and iterated with constant reference to people, where the user gives testimony to his/her experience. HCI research often involves the intended users in research and usability studies. However, accessibility to this population can be difficult for researchers.  Sears and Hansa (2011) state that it is difficult to recruit users with disabilities.  The use of non-representative users can lead to inaccurate conclusions about mobile technologies effectiveness. Other issues in HCI research include small number of participants and lack of control groups. Setting up a collaborative network of researchers with a number of local service providers who can provide access to the target users could address some of these issues.

In order to improve quality of life and health for these users, a more targeted interdisciplinary research focus is needed to design and develop applications for this user group. Designing for those with ID can be challenging for several reasons. As mentioned earlier, some research does not include the intended user with an ID and also user testing does not occur. In addition, there is a lack of design principles when developing applications, as “one size does not fit all!”. ID accessibility can call Universal Design into questioning – as it is not possible to design a product for all especially in the broad area of ID (Kennedy, Evans & Thomas, 2010).   Kennedy et al (2010) p. 375 state that “people with intellectual disabilities represent a community frequently left out of discussions about web accessibility, for a number of reasons, not least the complexity of conditions that constitutes an intellectual disability, the lack of standardization in terms of assistive technologies used by these populations, and the fact that the expertise of the individuals driving the accessibility initiatives usually lies in the fields of sensory or physical disability”.

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