Human-computer interaction (HCI) is the study of how people communicate with computers, and as such is primarily concerned with the transfer of information between people and computer software. Systematic investigation of this area has proved of great value in understanding the processes involved in communication with computers and has contributed to the design of more effective interfaces. HCI techniques work well when the primary purpose of the interaction is communication with computers, or with other machines through computers. It is less clear that they are equally effective when, as is commonly the case in rehabilitation systems, the computer is used as an intermediary in communication between people. In this case, concentration on the HCI can distract attention from the requirements of human-human interaction (HHI), which must include much more than the verbal content.
Volume VI Number 3, November 1999
This edition of the journal is partially supported by EASI's National Science Foundation grant to compile and disseminate information about K-12 science, math, engineering and technology access.
The concept of the ‘Information Superhighway' or the World Wide Web (hereafter referred to as the Web) is well known and understood. The rapidly growing numbers of both users and electronic documents is testimony to the claim that the Web is becoming an everyday part of life for many people. The Web as a digital information environment offers new methods of learning and patterns of information use. So, what does the Web offer to partially sighted and blind people? Does it offer a means of filling the information gap traditionally experienced by visually impaired people? And will this new medium provide equal access to, and use of, public information that has previously been unavailable? The Web has been welcomed by the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB). The RNIB claims that ‘the Internet is one of the most significant developments since the invention of Braille ... [because] for the first time ever, many blind and partially sighted people have access to the same wealth of information as sighted people and on the same terms.
The next issue of Information Technology and Disabilities will examine the emergence of a new text form for readers with print-related disabilities: the digital talking book. Some major research and development leaders will be invited to submit articles on their, or their organizations' work in this exciting field.
After an absence of several volumes, the ITD Departments are back, albeit in a somewhat limited way. I'm pleased to be assuming the role of editor for the Libraries section, which was originally held by Ann Neville, recently retired from her position at the University of Texas. In this and in future issues of ITD, the editors will include news of importance on a national/international level. Educators, librarians, rehabilitation and information technology professionals, among others, should look here for the latest reviews, notices of new publications and online information resources, and other items of interest to their professions.
If you have an item you would like us to consider for inclusion in one of the departments, please send it, preferably via e-mail, to: