Designing user interfaces for “ordinary users in extraordinary circumstances”: a keyboard-only web-based application for use in airports

Simeon Keates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)


Universal Access is commonly interpreted as focusing on designing for users with atypical requirements—specifically users with disabilities or older adults. However, Universal Access is also about providing access to users in all situations and circumstances, including those that place extraordinary or unusual demands on the users who might otherwise not need assistance. This paper examines the design of a user interface (UI) for use in an airport environment and explains how the lessons learned from research into designing for users with disabilities, in particular, have been applied in this new context. The paper further describes a series of experiments that were performed to demonstrate the usability of the new interface and also compares the efficiency and effectiveness of three different input strategies developed for the new UI. The most efficient method of input was a strategy of combined keyboard shortcuts offering access to the full functionality of the UI. The case study also highlights that new Web 2.0 technologies support the implementation of accessibility solutions more typically only associated with non-Web applications. Further, it demonstrates that relying on only the TAB key for supporting keyboard-only access is comparatively inefficient, and that Web developers should be actively encouraged to use all of the available functionality from Web 2.0 technologies to produce more flexible and efficient keyboard-only support.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-216
Number of pages12
JournalUniversal Access in the Information Society
Issue number2
Early online date6 Mar 2012
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


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