Mobile owners mirror disabled PC users

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Mobile owners mirror disabled PC users
Mobile phone owners typically make the same errors as physically handicapped PC users, according to a new study from the University of Manchester.

Research funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council indicates that many able-bodied people make the same mistakes when using mobile phones as physically impaired users of desktop computers.

Researchers working on the Reciprocal Interoperability between Accessible and Mobile Webs project at Manchester explained that many mobile owners press the wrong key, or press the same key repeatedly by mistake.

They also found that mobile users tend to click the wrong area of the screen, click the screen multiple times in error, and make mistakes when trying to drag and drop information.

"These types of errors have been a big problem for physically impaired users for a long time," said Dr Yeliz Yesilada, a senior researcher on the project.

"But solutions have been developed for all of these problems in the form of small assistive computer programmes which supplement Windows and Mac operating systems."

For the study, researchers at Manchester re-analysed earlier work by scientists at the University of Edinburgh who had looked into the problems of physically handicapped users.

They then re-ran the experiments with mobile users and found that a significant correlation existed between the two user groups.

"In recent years solutions have been built to help disabled users and it is hoped that these solutions can now be applied for the benefit of mobile phone users," said fellow researcher Tianyi Chen.

"By using solutions developed for disabled users we can help handset manufacturers to reduce the time we all spend correcting errors on our mobiles. "

Software already developed for PC users with disabilities could automatically correct erroneous commands and help reduce the annoying times when users accidentally cancel a text message or call someone by sitting on the phone.

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