Universal Design of ICT: A Historical Journey from Specialized Adaptations Towards Designing for Diversity
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionLecture Notes in Computer Science (LNCS). 2020, 12188 3-18. 10.1007/978-3-030-49282-3_1
Over the last decades, the field of computer science has moved from specialized adaptations and add-on assistive technologies, toward universal solutions catering to a diverse set of user needs. Two paradigm shifts have arguably occurred on this journey: 1) a shift in disability perspective (from a medical model to a psychosocial and situated model) and 2) a shift from reactive accessibility efforts to proactive inclusive design efforts. In addition, we have changed our perception of the end-user (from ‘Mr. Average’ to situated individuals), have expanded our disciplinary epistemologies (from positivist objective knowledge to critical and empathic qualitative insights), and changed the way we build digital solutions (from plan-based with little user contact to iterative with high user contact). This article tells the story of this journey, and how these shifts have all influenced the way we think today. We argue that different ways of thinking about and arguing for universal design today are not necessary confrontations – but can be seen as evolvements over time to complement the different societal systems in which we are designing.