Understanding and supporting individuals experiencing severely constraining situational impairments


A special strain of situational impairment, termed “Severely Constraining Situational Impairments” (SCSI), was explored from a novel qualitative perspective. When a severely impairing event presents, the multitude and complexity of ambient agents are often overwhelming, leading to the inability to devise a solution. To classify and help design for them, interviews and participatory design-based workshops were conducted, revealing that (1) participants attempt to complete mobile transactions, even if it might place them in considerable danger, and (2) significant differences exist in the modalities and steps used to address the onset of a severely impairing event versus those of a non-severe situational impairment. Design solutions generated from the workshops indicated that users want technology to take a larger role in helping manage the added cognitive load inherent in severely impairing events. The revealed implications for design indicate that to maximize the user experience in the mobile device transaction space, designers must account for the presence of these SCSI and the unique design specifications that they require.

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The authors wish to acknowledge the assistance of Lawrence Burgee, Ph.D., and Robert H. Cormier, Jr., B.A., for their input to this work.

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Correspondence to Ravi Kuber.

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Saulynas, S., Kuber, R. Understanding and supporting individuals experiencing severely constraining situational impairments. Univ Access Inf Soc 19, 919–933 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10209-019-00705-7

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  • Situational impairments
  • SIID
  • Severely constraining situational impairments
  • SCSI
  • Smartphones
  • Mobile interaction
  • Accessibility