Universal Design: Lessons for Wearable Computing. IEEE Pervasive Computing: Mobile and Ubiquitous Systems

Date of Publication: 
2003 September

When we as developers and designers create a system that requires user interaction-whether it is computer software, a kitchen appliance, or a door knob-we often fall victim to a common mistake: we use ourselves as the model for our system's potential users. Even developing for an "average user" is a pitfall that results in numerous users whose needs are overlooked. The average user might account for the largest spike under a bell curve, but nonaverage users account for a much larger percentage of the general population. Additionally, the number of people possessing all of the average attributes being considered in a design is very small. So, the designers' goal should be to broaden the section of the bell curve that their system targets. This concept is called universal design, and it's especially important in wearable computing because using a system while mobile and while in different environments can have a major effect on its usability.


The contents of this website were developed under a grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR grant number 90RE5025-01-00). NIDILRR is a Center within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this website do not necessarily represent the policy of NIDILRR, ACL, HHS, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.