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Digital Applications & Website Design

Tools for organizing and presenting digital information

Desktop & Laptop Environments

Summary of Findings that are Applicable to Students with Learning Disabilities Using Computers

Kumar, Shiv Nath, Sangun Baijal, Leena Chourney, Aparna Ramamurthy, and M. Sasikumar. (2012) "Conceptualizing a Desktop Environment for Cognitively Challenged People," CUBE 2012.

Computers users who have LDs need clear, simple, consistent instructions to follow. They often understand pictoral representations better than text, and remember through recreation. They find it difficult to understand when flooded with too many selections or instructions at a time. 

Issues and challenges

  • Presentation of content. Layout, text-only, cluttered format, and multiple fonts, colors, and sizes will not suit users with reading disabilities. 
  • Design & usability considerations. Conventional design and operating procedures are too complex, even with basic tasks such as opening and closing an application.
  • Task identification, selection, & execution. For users with memory and organizational issues they may easily forget where to locate and access a particular task or application, and problems will arise in sequencing when surfing the web.
  • Navigation barriers. A structure that has multiple paths of information access, a large number or decision-making points and multi-level organization of resources imposes barriers to LD users. 
  • Language barriers. Users may not be able to read printed text or input text in proper manner.

Proposed solutions

  • Provide simple  easy layout with minimum number of items on the desktop.
  • Size of items on desktop should be large enough with label in bigger font to enhance readability.
  • Frequently used applications should be put on desktop.
  • Proper spacing between items.
  • Task list can be provided to list and manage what the user is supposed to perform.
  • Provide a mechanism to list all of the activities performed by the user on a particular session, as an additional cue to recall activities and resources.
  • Prompting mechanism to help users.
  • Tagged file system--by images or simple text.