Throughout numerous case studies1 [1.] Papanek sets out analysing usabilitiy of mainstream products and their efficiency at meeting the users needs. One example and later implications on law he mentions is the Microcomputer.
- Is the keyboard design ergonomically optimised?
- And are the letters arranged by frequency of use?
- Is the screen viewable from different angles? Can it be adjusted?
- Background and type colours are restricted to very few alternatives, do these create legible images and are they suitable for long time exposure?
- Are elements and type sizes on screen legible and easy to recognise?
- Might they create problems for all or some user groups (e.g. elderly)?
- Is the user forced to adapt to the needs of the machine or is the machine adapting to user needs?
This example starts to give an impression of the implications the designers work has on users. Early studies [2.] document chronic back and eye phenomena affecting long-term computer users. These effects caused by bad designs are well studied today so that laws and regulations for user protection and prevention have been manifested.
In Britain for example, the ‘Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974’ regulates employers and employees responsibilities alike for creating a safe and healthy work environment. Its latest and revised version [3.] dictates that computer work stations must provide tiltable screens, anti-glare filters, adjustable chairs, suitable lighting and plan frequent breaks for tasks that require the use of computers. Further it states that it is the employer’s responsibility to pay for appropriate eye and eyesight tests by an optician.
Papanek, V., 2006. Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change – 2nd edition. London: Thames & Hudson; pp.57-60 [1.]
Dr. Frank Robert, All Things Considered (three-year study), 13. October 1983 – Papanek, V., 2006. Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change – 2nd edition. London: Thames & Hudson; p.60 [2.]