Design Approaches for Developing User-Interfaces Accessible to Illiterate Users

Matthew Paul Huenerfauth

User-Interface Recommendations Supporting Universal Literacy Accessibility (URSULA) is a project to create user-interface guidelines for developers who are writing applications and websites that may be used by illiterate users. In particular, these guidelines would be useful for developers of devices for developing communities, such as the Simputer, a small information access device to be distributed in India. Because of low literacy levels among the target population for this device and the diversity of languages used throughout India, special consideration must be exercised when designing applications such that they are understandable by users who lack written language literacy. Interfaces that use speech and dialogue interaction, display non-linguistic graphics, adapt to the literacy level of the user, and accept input by microphone and touch screen would be well-suited to the domain. This paper traces the initial stages of URSULA work, and it demonstrates how a conceptual interface-design approach, Hypothetical User Design Scenarios (HUDS), can be used to drive the design process.

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