CODI: Cornucopia of Disability Information
Accessibility by any other name is usability
NOTE Reprinted with the permission of the Electronic Industries Association Consumer Electronics Group (EIA/CEG). This article is a reprint that appears in the December 1993 issue of the EIA/CEG "CE Network News"

Accessibility By Any Other Name Is ...Usability

Accessible design maximizes the number of potential customers who can readily use a product, said Michael Paciello (Digital Equipment Corporation), as he addressed EIA Fall Conference attendees in the session, "Expanding Product Sales Through Accessible Design."

Making products easy to use can increase market share by en- abling people with disabilities and functional limitations to enjoy consumer electronic products. According to Paciello , usability is product design containing five specific at- tributes:

o Learnability (easy to learn)

o Efficiency (promoting productivity)

o Memorability (easy to remember)

o Low Rate of Errors

o Satisfaction (users like product)

Paciello claims usability marketing is on the rise, particu- larly among computer companies. Among the companies marketin g usability, Paciello cited his own Digital Equipment Corpora- tion, Microsoft, Lotus, and IBM.

What is Accessible?

According to Paciello, accessible design is simply product design that meets human functional needs. To maximize the number of users for each product, companies should consider the needs of consumers with visual impairment, including those who are blind; hearing impairment, include thouse who are deaf, mobility and speech impairment.

Stressing the fact that design features are not added fea- tures, Paciello discussed several ways to make consumer products accessible:

o use of built-in controls, labels, displays and other fea- tures;

o use of add-on options such as braille overlays, raised buttons, indicators or special computer utilities;

o use of separate assistive devices in conjunction with mai n product;

o use of voice output;

o use of audio/visual alarms;

o inclusion of accessible installation instructions.

As a CEG member who participates actively in the Assistive Devices Division, Paciello pointed out that EIA/CEG can be proud of several "accessibility selling success stories." He cited the:

o CaptionVision (CC) campaign which promoted awareness and use of built-in closed captioning features on TVs;

o the "Extend Their Reach" pamphlet describing assistive devices for people with disabilities; and

o "General Guidelines for Operating Instruction Manuals", a general use booklet to help manufacturers design user- friendly manuals for their products.

Paciello also cited WGBH's Descriptive Video Services, a public broadcasting service whereby the action, setting, etc. of a TV program or video are described for the benefit of blind or visually impaired viewers during breaks in the program's dialogue.