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JUS Call for Articles: Special Issue

Universal Design and ICT

Call for Papers for a Peer-Reviewed Special Issue of JUS

Information and Communications Technology - or Technologies (ICT) is an overarching term that includes all technologies for the manipulation and communication of information. It encompasses any medium to record information (magnetic disk/tape, optical disks such as CD/DVD, flash memory etc. and arguably also paper records); technology for broadcasting information - radio, television; and technology for communicating through voice and sound or images - microphone, camera, loudspeaker, telephone to cellular phones. It includes the wide variety of computing hardware (PCs, servers, mainframes, networked storage), the rapidly developing personal hardware market comprising mobile phones, personal devices, MP3 players, and much more, especially the rapid growth in digital information.

ICT has become an essential tool in education, employment, lifestyle and recreation. Most people rely on ICT products both in their daily routine, as well as for focused and more specialised activities. For example, telephones and the internet are used to make dentist appointments and airline reservations, ordering take-out food, calling relatives, communicating with customers and colleagues, participating in conference calls at work or in school, and making emergency calls. In addition, those concerned with specialized communication activities use ICT for distance learning, telecommuting, and videoconferencing, etc. The mobile phone has grown from a simple voice-to-voice communication device to being a camera, music player, hard drive and lifestyle accessory that many people have come to depend on.

Designing any product or interface involves the consideration of many factors, including aesthetics, ergonomics, engineering, environmental issues, safety concerns, industry standards, and cost. Typically, when including people in this process, designers only consider the average user and rarely include people of different ages and abilities. In contrast, universal design (UD) is the design of products, environments, and communication to be usable by the widest number of people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. The concept can also be referenced as inclusive design, design-for-all, lifespan design or human-centered design.

Specifically, barriers to standard electronic and information technology can severely limit opportunities to education and employment for some people with disabilities and reduce lifestyle choice and independence in communicating with friends, family and social networks around them. This includes telecommunications equipment and services. For example, part of a multimedia tutorial that uses voice narration without captioning or transcription is inaccessible to students with hearing impairments. Similarly, using a computer mouse can be difficult for people with reduced dexterity and scrolling through digital menus can feel unnatural for people with cognitive or sensory impairment or those uncomfortable with the digital world. A software program that requires an unnecessarily high reading level may also be inaccessible to some people who have learning disabilities.

However, specialized software and hardware that is aimed at specific disabilities have enabled certain marginalised groups to successfully use ICT, though this can be generally categorised as assistive technology. For example, a person with visual impairments may use a screen reader program with a speech synthesizer to access the content and functionality of a program. But such a system only provides access to the text presented on the screen and to keyboard commands. It does not allow that visually impaired user to view graphics or to access features that require the use of a standard mouse. Although assistive technologies can give access and independence to severely disabled users, their relevance to mainstream users and hence their positioning within Universal Design needs to be further explored.

To ensure access to all potential users, it is important that software and hardware designers, engineers and producers continue to challenge the status quo of ICT with the objective of minimising barriers to people who are currently excluded on the grounds of age or ability whilst developing products and services that build on assistive technology solutions.

This special issue provides a global forum for presenting authoritative references, academically rigorous research and case studies in both theoretical development and applied research. The aim of this special issue is to capture and publish the latest thinking on a variety of topics related to Universal Design and ICT.

We are inviting people from both academia and industry to submit articles relevant to the following topics:

Articles on these and other themes related to Universal Design and ICT will introduce JUS readers to this important and growing area of practice and research.

Deadlines for submission

Any specific instructions for submissions

Submitted papers should not have been previously published nor be currently under consideration for publication elsewhere

All papers are refereed through a peer review process. A guide for authors, sample copies and other relevant information for submitting papers are available on the "Submission Guideline and Review Criteria" page

You may send one copy in the form of an MS Word file attached to an e-mail (details in Author Guidelines) to the following editors:

Assoc. Prof. André Liem
Department of Product Design
Faculty of Engineering Science and Technology
Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Kolbjørn Hejes vei 2B
N-7491 Trondheim
E-mail: andre.liem@ntnu.no

Rama Gheerawo
Research Fellow
Programme Leader, Research Associates
Helen Hamlyn Centre
Royal College of Art
Kensington Gore
London SW7 2EU
United Kingdom
E-mail: rama.gheerawo@rca.ac.uk

Dr. Sarah J. Swierenga,
Director MSU Usability & Accessibility Center (UAC)
Michigan State University
Kellogg Center, Garden Level
East Lansing,
Michigan 48824-1022
United States of America
E-mail: uac@msu.edu

Only upon acceptance, authors will be asked to transfer the article to the JUS template (see "Submission Guideline and Review Criteria" page).

The Online International Journal of Usability Studies (JUS) is a peer-reviewed, international, online publication dedicated to promote and enhance the practice, research, and education of usability engineering.

Submission guideline and Review Criteria is to be found at: http://www.upassoc.org/upa_publications/jus/submit.html