We are all disabled #0 – Intro post.

I have told you the story about how I started to be interested in human-computer interactions here. I got deeply amazed about how accessibility problems (situations where the disabled strive to use a mobile phone) challenged me into thinking of alternative ways they (people and phones) could interact. I mean, how could one make a phone call without being able to speak? Or how can someone send a text message with no hands, or with no motor dexterity. The list goes on. A quick sit-down with a blind person could feed our innovators-hci-brain-cells with nitro.

Quick side note: I have very dear memories of me and my father watching bruce lee, jackie chan, van-damme movies, and it was always a cool part when the masters had creative (and painful) ways to teach their techniques. It was interesting how the blindfold fighting was a recurrent scene. I think it was supposed to enhance awareness by disabling the sight of the student. I think this relates well to creating alternative hci. See a classical example below on 03:18  :):

So, i kept going with experiments with mobile apps for the disabled. It felt both challenging and it was like the industry and the academia were not exploring it how it could (or should). Some ideas from our brainstorming sessions sounded so obvious and we could not find them implemented anywhere. We thought that maybe the it was a commercial/market thing, that accessibility would not be profitable enough for them to put a team of developers and designers together to work with it. After some time of reflection, we thought of many reasons to invest in accessibility, which we have been presenting in a lot of places, over the last 3 or 4 years.

But one of these reasons kept maturing and has taken over the way I think about hci. I realized that not only the disabled benefit from accessibility solutions. Think of someone trying to talk on the phone during that loud party. You will find yourself absolutely deaf (to the phone). Maybe this was an obvious example, but it is possible to stress these scenarios a bit further. Like when you are driving and you can´t (or you shouldn´t) look at the phone screen and you just have to blindly interact with it. Or this: Let´s say you are cooking and your hands are viscous, slimy, sticky, viscid, tacky, stringy, glairy, and you cannot hold your phone, but you do have to take that urgent call. How much of a handicap are you right there?

Anyway, we all have limitations and those should be the fuel of human x technology interaction innovation. Again,I keep thinking I am being so obvious here, but it gets tiring to see technologists getting self-amazed with their technically-wowing but humanless solutions. Really.

Leave a Reply