Research Output
Familiarity as a basis for universal design
  The aim of Universal Design is to make interactive artifacts
usable by the broadest possible range of users and how best to achieve this lies at the heart of human-computer interaction (H CI). HCI relies on a variety of tools , techniques and a num ber of theoretical bases but it is specifically the use
of metaphor which is of interest here. HCI has made a succes of creating interactive artifacts but has always treated design in a typically dualistic manner with a clear distinction between “man and machine ” and the use of metaphor it self is
also based on an underlying dualistic ‘source -target’ structure. This paper presents an argument for familiarity as a basis for Universal Design. Familiarity, according to Heidegger, is non-dualistic; it is a fact of our existence, it is one of the primary ways in which we relate to the world. Familiarity is taken to mean a thorough knowledge of, or an intimacy with, something or some one and encom -passes the ideas of involvement and understanding. The role of familiarity is illustrated by way of a study of a group of seniors learning to use a personal computer and the services it provides. Analysis of the resulting substantial body
of interview and discussion group data leads us to conclude that to become familiar
with technology is to integrate it into one ’s everyday life - an everyday life
which is correspondingly re configured. This perspective offers a holistic account of learning which has significant consequences for how technology is designed
and introduced to everyone.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    01 July 2006

  • Publication Status:


  • Publisher

    Internationsl Society for Gerontechnology

  • DOI:


  • ISSN:


  • Library of Congress:

    QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    004 Data processing & computer science


Walle, G. V. D., Turner, P., Turner, P., & Van de Walle, G. (2006). Familiarity as a basis for universal design. Gerontechnology : international journal on the fundamental aspects of technology to serve the ageing society, 5(3), 150-159. doi:10.4017/gt.2006.



technology; Internet; training; familiarity; Heidegger;

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