On the second Saturday in March of 2014, TV viewers could get a look at a home of the future. It was filled with doors, windows, lights and appliances that could respond to computerized controls. By the same token, it had been pointed-to as an excellent example of accessible design. Still, those who admired its futuristic features did not receive any proof of that same home’s usability.
Evidence of accessibility does not translate into proof of usability. A usable section of interior space demonstrates three significant characteristics. First of all it facilitates the efforts of those who intend to learn how to utilize any of the items that are found within that same area. In other words, it retains an optimal amount of learnability.
Certain operations will be performed within any specific space. Ideally, those operations should be easy to learn. Moreover, once any one of them has been learned, the steps required for the completion of that just-learned job ought to be recalled with ease. If all those conditions have been satisfied, then the same room (or section of a room) can be classed as a region that facilitates the learning of specific skills.
Still, a usable space ought to demonstrate more than what has been called learnability. It should also be a fine example of consistency. That means that the method to be used by those who will live in that same area should be clear and consistent. In addition, any labeling that has been carried-out in that learnable and consistent region should aid maintenance of an efficient and effective lifestyle.
Time will tell whether or not the accessible designs of the future can be linked to the characteristics that are found in a learnable, consistent and efficient section of the interior, whether that be located in a home or in a workplace. That determination will be made by those men and women who live and work in any such location. Hopefully, those children and adults who seek to overcome the challenge of being wheelchair-dependent will not encounter more challenges, once they begin operating in a home or office of the future.
Image credit: CEFutcher