The Undisabled

Daria Podrezova –

A study of transient disabilities not addressed in the accessibility standards

What does an email client have in common with a roller coaster? As this study shows, up to 20% of users may regularly experience motion sickness when using conventional desktop software.

Exposure to motion sickness triggers not only causes discomfort but may also lead to persistent fatigue, apathy and drowsiness lasting for hours and even days. Surprisingly, this condition is not in the list of legally recognized impairments and therefore is not covered with common software accessibility standards

The Undisabled Research Project employs empirical user-centred approach in the research for design field. It attempts to estimate the spread of transient disabilities such as motion sickness, compile a collection of discomfort triggers in popular professional software and gain evidence about the impact of these. Its ultimate goal is to extend accessibility frameworks to cater to the needs of the users affected.

As the findings show, top-rated office applications on the Australian market (such as Atlassian Confluence, Microsoft Outlook, Canva and Google Slides) do trigger motion sickness. User tests have also helped to rate the unpleasant UI elements and find out that particular types of scroll, zoom or fade transitions are significantly worse than others. As animation is a widely used HCI tool, it is crucial to determine how it can designers use it without causing unnecessary discomfort. To raise awareness about motion sickness and to improve software design practice, the results are compiled into a guideline (or cheat sheet in software development slang) in the form of a poster. Maybe your team will be the next who hangs it in the office kitchenette?

Download the Undisabled Cheat Sheet Poster (A3 format) here —