ICT designers get disability guide

Ways of designing products - ranging from household appliances to biometric equipment - to make them easier for elderly and disabled people to use are the subject of a new set of guidelines aimed at engineers and technicians.

̵6;Guidelines for the Design of Accessible ICT Systems̵7; has been compiled by the RNIB̵7;s scientific unit for its Tiresias website, www.tiresias.org and covers four areas.

A section on user groups provides demographic information about the types of disabilities that designers need to consider, while a second on application areas looks at everyday situations where accessibility should be a major consideration.

The technology section refers to specific systems such as RFID and smart media and how accessibility issues can be addressed. Finally, ̵6;related aspects̵7; looks at the more general issues that users may encounter and where accessibility is an issue.

Tiresias provides in-depth information on more than 2000 devices, some 1000 agencies for blind and partially sighted people, research around the world and reports on topics ranging from smart cars and biometrics to Braille and tactile data.

RNIB chief scientist Dr John Gill believes that engineers have the ability to make life more enjoyable for people with disabilities and older people. ̶0;They are the people who design and make ICT systems and we urge them to look at the recommendations contained in the guidelines and to give some thought on how greater improvements can be made,̶1; he said. ̶0;The need to do so grows apace as, added to the several millions of Britons with disabilities, we have to help the increasing number of older people.̶1;

When designing systems, it̵7;s important to consider the implications of different impairments, Gill added. For example, eight per cent of the male population have difficulty in distinguishing between red and green. ̶0;The number of people with impairments will increase as life expectancy increases. Among older people it is common to have a combination of impairments which can result in problems in using information and communication technology systems.̶1;

Image: RNIB chief scientist Dr John Gill

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