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Public Access

Enabling access to information and services is one of the great opportunities for HCI research and user interface design.  The HCIL has been a leader in working on information access with projects on web-based information gathering, digital libraries, electronic books, educational technology, voting, public kiosks, and mobile devices.  Projects have often been driven by the needs of U.S. government agencies in their continuing efforts to provide public services.  These digital government projects regularly included working with the Library of Congress, Bureau of the Census, the National Library of Medicine, and other agencies.

A key aspect of providing public access is to consider the requirements for universal usability, that is, design strategies to enable novice and expert, young and old, as well as speakers of multiple languages or those with low literacy to "Find what you need; understand what you find."  Universal usability also addresses the needs of users with disabilities and those with small displays or slow network connections.  Expanding the diversity of users benefits all users by enabling multiple voices to contribute solutions for the pressing problems of our age.

Current Projects

International Children's Digital Library Screenshot

International Children's Digital Library
A library that provides free access to children's books from around the world. By ensuring access to books from many cultures and in diverse languages, we foster a love of reading, a readiness to learn, and a response to the challenges of world illiteracy.

Restaurant Food Safety Inspections:
Digital disclosure with a nationally standardized database Screenshot

Restaurant Food Safety Inspections: Digital disclosure with a nationally standardized database
The goal of this project is to compile, study, and openly distribute a nationally standardized database of government health inspectors' restaurant ratings.


Past Projects

Community Response Grids Screenshot

Community Response Grids
The 911.gov system would rely on the Internet and the mobile communication devices to allow citizens to receive and submit information about significant homeland security community problems. Based on lessons from recent natural catastrophes and the terror attacks of 9/11, telephone, radio, and television-based emergency response systems cannot meet all of the emergency response needs of communities. The combination of mobile telecommunications devices and the Internet in 911.gov, however, has the potential to provide higher capacity and more effective service, as well as create interactive communication mechanisms that can reach many more citizens and government officials simultaneously.

Electronic Voting Systems Screenshot

Electronic Voting Systems
Evaluation of usability, preference, accuracy and confidence in new voting system technologies and verification systems.

High-Precision Touchscreens: Museum Kiosks, Home Automation and Touchscreen Keyboards Screenshot

High-Precision Touchscreens: Museum Kiosks, Home Automation and Touchscreen Keyboards
Between 1987 and 1991 HCIL worked on a series of touchscreen projects for museum kiosks, home automation, and text data entry.


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