Law and Vanderheiden proposed a set of usability screening tests that simulate disability so that designers can obtain preliminary information about product accessibility for end users with sensory, physical, and cognitive limitations (See Unit 1 Reading 3). The intent was to help designers identify and correct the most obvious design problems before conducting tests with participants who have disabilities. The authors’ priorities for development of these screening tests included:
1. The protocols must be simple enough that designers can administer the tests on themselves or colleagues
2. Implementation of the tests must be low cost and reasonably easy
3. Simulation of functional limitations must be effective enough that obvious design mismatches are screened out and solved.
For this project, you will simulate a disability using one of the six methods below. Describe the product you attempted to use. List and describe any problems you encounter, and propose brief solutions that would have helped you overcome many those barriers. For all of these scenarios, refrain from doing anything dangerous (i.e. do not attempt to navigate stairs or street crossings with low vision). If you already have a disability, simulate an additional one.
1. No Vision: Wear a blindfold. Have a friend or family member give you a product (preferably one you are unfamiliar with). Attempt to use the product. (For example, you could try to use a CD player.)
2. Low Vision: Wear glasses with petroleum jelly (e.g. Vasoline) smeared on the outside, or, use someone else’s glasses who has far different visual abilities than yourself. Attempt to use a piece of common household equipment (do not study the equipment first). (For example, you could attempt doing laundry.)
3. Obscured Hearing: Use earplugs, or, turn off the volume on the product you are using. Attempt to use a product that conveys information audibly and visually. (For example, you could attempt to watch a 24-hour news program on a TV you are unfamiliar with and attempt to find the closed captioning).
4. One Hand: Place your dominant hand in your pocket. Attempt a common household task. (For example, you could try brushing your teeth or making and eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich).
5. One Finger: Tie all but your index finger together and place the other hand in your pocket. Attempt a common household task. (For example, you could try getting dressed.)
6. Low Manipulation: Wear thick winter gloves or oven mittens on both hands. Attempt to use a common household device. (For example, you could try using a remote control or telephone, or opening a bottle of medication).
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