The increasing amount of television content that is available and the increased capabilities of television equipment has required manufacturers to provide extensive on-screen interfaces to give users access to all the content and functionality. Without the Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) and the on-screen information about programmes, it is very difficult for viewers to plan their viewing, find programmes or even to know what they are currently watching. Without access to some kind of menu system it is not possible to do a lot of the things many people now take for granted, such as watching previously recorded programmes, setting parental controls or changing the various set-up and display options. Access to the on-screen interface is therefore essential.
A purely visual and textual on-screen interface presents obvious and significant problems for many people, including people with limited or no vision, reading disorders or low literacy. A complex user interface can present serious problems for people with cognitive or intellectual impairments as well as for people who simply have some level of difficulty in coping with the increasing complexity of everyday technology.
All of these problems can be reduced by careful design which gives users control over the way information is presented on screen and enables that information to be conveyed in a variety of modes text, graphics, sounds, spoken output according to the individual user’s needs and preferences.
Following design guidelines is not enough on its own, Designs should always be tested in realistic settings by the intended users, including older people and people with disabilities. Only then can designers and product providers be sure that the design works as intended.
Sources of information used for the guidelines on on-screen interfaces
As stated in the overall introduction to the guidelines, these recommendations are largely the result of a compilation and restructuring of information contained in existing resources. The key resources used for this section were:
- INTECO, Digital Terrestrial Television Accessibility Recommendations
- World Blind Union (WBU), International User Requirements for Television Receiving Equipment
- UK Consumer Expert Group, Vulnerable Consumer Requirements for Digital TV Equipment
- Industry Self-Commitment to improve the accessibility of digital TV receiving equipment sold in the European Union
These and other resources are referenced in the bibliography.