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Usability in Civic Life

UPA Public Statements

As part of our mission as advocates for usability, we speak up when there is an opportunity to be sure that usability has good visibility as an important aspect of civic life.


March, 2008

Testimony at the EAC Roundtable

As part of the public review of the Voluntary Voting Systems Guidelines (VVSG), the EAC held a series of public roundtable discussions. UPA members were invited to the Usability and Accessibility Roundtable

January, 2006

Letter of support to US Congress for plain language.

UPA Supports Easier Access to Government for all Citizens All citizens have a right to know what their government is doing, and the mandate in H.R. 3548 and S.2291 that any “letter, publication, form, notice, or instruction” be issued in plain language will help achieve this goal, and improve the civic experience.

September, 2006

Announcement that UPA is appointed to an advisory committee on accessibliity regulation

UPA Appointed to US Access Board Advisory Committee. This group will provide recommendations for updates of accessibility standards issued under section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and guidelines under Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act.   Members of this advisory committee include representatives from over forty industry, disability groups, standard-setting bodies in the international community, and government agencies.

UPA is represented by Whitney Quesenbery and Sarah Swierenga

May 5, 2006

Support for consideration of new US legislation on plain language

Usability Professionals’ Association Urges Consideration of Plain Language and the principles of language that is clear and readily understood. We urged that Congress consider a bill proposed to require that all communications of the US government be written in plain language, as an amendment to the Paperwork Reduction Act.

An article in the UPA Voice, "Usable Regulations: Legislation Pending in the US Congress" explained the issues in more detail.

August 5, 2005

Announcement of an appointment of a UPA member to an elections committee

UPA announces Dana Chisnell's appointment to Ballot Simplification Committee. This committee writes the plain language version of ballot initiatives, and now includes a usability expert.

Dana was reappointed in August 2007 for a second 2-year term.

August 2005

UPA member sponsored to participate in Department of Defense Technical Advisory Group

UPA supports maintaining a human engineering standard, and sponsors Baruch Sachs as a member of the Department of Defense’s Human Factors Engineering Technical Advisory Group (DoD HFE TAG).

This group coordinates research and development among the military services and other Government agencies involved in Human Factors Engineering.

May 16, 2005

Letter to the Carter-Baker Commission on voting usability

UPA Joins in Urging the Carter-Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform  to Consider Design and Usability as Critical Factors in Elections This letter from Design for Democracy points out that "many of the problems identified in past elections could be alleviated or prevented by improving the design and usability of voting ballots and systems, instructional materials and environments."

March 4, 2005

Comment on a notice of a Transportation Department proposed rule onaccessibility in air travel

UPA commented in support of a proposed Department of Transportation Rule on Non-Discrimination on the Basis of Disablity in Air Travel.

We argued that "this rule extends these requirements to a group of web sites important to large numbers of people who are currently disadvantaged by inaccessible and unusable design. Many travel web sites offer their “best prices” only on the web and create other incentives to use this channel to check in for flights, reserve seat assignments, receive notifications of flight delays, request special services, and communicate with the air carrier in other ways."


July 6, 2004

Announcement of appointment to a voting system standards committee

UPA announces that Whitney Quesenbery, UPA President Joins Election Assistance Commission's Technical Guidelines Development Committee, and is appointed chair for Human Factors and Privacy


May 23, 2004

Letter to the Washington Post on voting and usability

A Washington Post article, The Tabulator: Is Florida's 2000 Vote on the Butterfly Ballot Designer's Mind as November Approaches? You Can Count on It interviews Theresa LaPore, almost four years after the 2000 US Presidential elections with her "butterfly ballot" included quotes from LaPore wondering why people couldn't learn to use the ballot.

Our response wondered in turn why there are no national ballot design guidelines, and called for both training local election officials and the use of usability professionals to ensure that all ballots are usable. Read our letter to the Washington Post

April 6, 2004

Call for funding usability of voting systems


This Action Alert to UPA members is call for funding to usability testing of voting systems. By failing to fund key initiatives, the US Congress has jeopardized the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) – the law that was designed to improve the usability of US voting systems following the 2000 US presidential elections.

January 11, 2004

Letter to the New York Times

In an editorial, The Disability Lobby and Voting, the New York Times wondered why some groups see a conflict between having elections accessible to all and allowing for a verifiable audit trail.

Our response stressed the value of a complete user-centered design approach in meeting all requirements and ensuring usability. Read our letter to the NY Times

September 16, 2003

Press Release responding to a California court decision

Usability Professionals’ Association Supports Consideration of Voting System Usability and Effectiveness in California Recall Decision
The UPA issued a press release supporting the consideration of usability and effectiveness in making election decisions, saying that it is crucial that all voting systems be properly evaluated for usability.

November 14, 2000

Press Release responding to the Palm Beach butterfly ballot

Palm Beach Ballot Design Problems Could Have Been Avoided, Say Usability Professionals Adherence to Simple Usability Assessment Procedures Should be Routine In the event that started it all off, we pointed out that "simple usability practices could have significantly reduced or possibly eliminated the problems that caused some 19,000 ballots in Palm Beach County, Florida, to be disqualified in the November 7th presidential election."






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