Practical Approaches to Cognitive Accessibility

Duncan Babbage, AUT Centre for eHealth Part of DW18

Cognitive accessibility has been described as the ‘last great frontier’ in accessibility and universal design. Aiming for a clean and simple design is commonly valued already in mobile software, and often this is probably the only step that is taken towards cognitive accessibility.

This talk will cover two practical approaches to enhance cognitive accessibility in mobile software. Firstly, it will propose that instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, apps could provide a user setting that gives an overall control of the degree of complexity that an app will present. The talk will outline a practical example of this, including the app architecture decisions and code required to implement this into an existing app.

A second approach to cognitive accessibility was used in an iPad app for inpatients in a brain injury rehabilitation service, where we implemented a novel authentication mechanism using inexpensive Bluetooth wristbands. The authentication mechanism was trialed over several months with a series of six clients of the brain injury service who were part of the initial pilot of this Rehab Portal app, using signal strength information from the wristband as an indicator of proximity to iPads mounted to the wall in a client’s bedroom.

The primary take-home message from this presentation is there are practical cognitive accessibility opportunities in the design of mobile apps. The Rehab Portal project discussed in this presentation was supported by a seed grant (#3705718 / A582) from the Medical Technologies Centre of Research Excellence (MedTech CoRE), funded by the Tertiary Education Commission of New Zealand.