User interface design guidelines for smartphone applications for people with Parkinson’s disease


Parkinson’s disease (PD) is often responsible for difficulties in interacting with smartphones; however, research has not yet addressed these issues and how these challenge people with Parkinson’s (PwP). This paper specifically investigates the symptoms and characteristics of PD that may influence the interaction with smartphones to then contribute in this direction. The research was based on a literature review of PD symptoms, eight semi-structured interviews with healthcare professionals and observations of PwP, and usability experiments with 39 PwP. Contributions include a list of PD symptoms that may influence the interaction with smartphones, a set of experimental results that evaluated the performance of four gestures tap, swipe, multiple-tap, and drag and 12 user interface design guidelines for creating smartphone user interfaces for PwP. Findings contribute to the work of researchers and practitioners’ alike engaged in designing user interfaces for PwP or the broader area of inclusive design.

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The authors would like to acknowledge the kindness and help of all persons with Parkinson’s that participated in this study. To you, we dedicate our work. We would like to thank also the specialists that participated in the interviews and were patient enough to answer all our questions. We are further in debt to the Portuguese Parkinson’s disease association, especially Josefa Domingos, the national responsible for research. We would like to thank the REMPARK consortium, in particular Àngels Bayés, Alberto Costa, and Roberta Annichiarico. We thank Roxanne Leitão for the insightful discussions and comments, as well as the designs she created for some of the usability experiments. We also thank Bryan Seeman and Martha Crosby for their comments on previous versions of this draft. This work was in part supported by the European 7th Framework Program REMPARK ( project. The first author was also supported by the Vienna PhD School of Informatics (

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Correspondence to Francisco Nunes.

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Nunes, F., Silva, P.A., Cevada, J. et al. User interface design guidelines for smartphone applications for people with Parkinson’s disease. Univ Access Inf Soc 15, 659–679 (2016).

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  • Touchscreen accessibility
  • User interface design
  • Usability guidelines
  • Designing for people with special needs
  • Mobile
  • Smartphone
  • Touch gestures
  • Motor impairments
  • Parkinson’s disease