What’s so bad about feeling bad?

We’ve been chewing over this article about Anthony Dunne (who is also cited in Graham Pullin’s design meets disability), a designer who believes that usability is better served by playing to, rather than minimizing, standard human reactions such as anxiety and discomfort. On one hand, we can see this approach benefiting the accessibility cause, particularly if standard associations of disability/aging as solely negative traits can be modified. (Eyeglasses, after all, started out as assistive technology and turned into both fashion statements and a sign of intelligence.) On the other, though, there may be a significant difference between the reactions of an individual with “standard” responses, and those with emotional/cognitive disabilities at either end of the curve–e.g., if an anxiety-producing component is deliberately built into a product design, people with depression or other conditions that cause a flat affect may not respond, potentially rendering the product as useless to them as an uncaptioned video would be to a Deaf person.

Usability News: HCI 09: “Do you want to replace the existing normal?”

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