Finger Instead of Mouse: Touch Screens as a Means of Enhancing Universal Access

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Touch-Screen Technology is the most natural of all input devices — even children can easily learn how to operate them. But this simple interaction proved also to be ideal for people who are not overly familiar with computers including elderly and/or disabled patients in a hospital. A pilot system of an interactive Patient Communications System (PACOSY) has been developed in a User Centered Design (UCD) process. Patients were enabled to retrieve and enter information interactively via various touch screen systems connected to the Hospital Intranet. This paper concentrates primarily on experimental experiences with touch technology and the technological requirements for a touch based Patient Information System (PATIS) serving as Point of Information (POI) for patients within a hospital or a future Point of Consultation (POC). People with low or no computer literacy found using touch screens easy and motivating. Together with a cheap, simple and user friendly interface design, such systems can enhance universal access within an information society for all.

“Each Pointing concept has its enthusiasts and detractors, motivated by commercial interests, by personal preference and increasingly by empirical evidence” (Ben Shneiderman, 1998, p.323 [1]).”