Ensure that external connections are easy to reach, clearly marked and secure


People with reduced mobility or other physical disabilities can find it difficult to reach around the back of the set top box or television or to move them in order to get at the sockets, such as headphones and USB cables. Whilst this is not as big a problem for permanent connections, some, such as headphones, may need to be frequently disconnected and reconnected. The problem is made worse if connections are not secure and can be easily displaced while adjusting or cleaning the equipment. This may cause the equipment to stop operating correctly, requiring the user to identify the problem and reconnect the cables. All connections, even those that are permanent and secure, should be clearly marked, so users are not required to rely on external help.

Directions and techniques

Make frequently accessed sockets easy to reach (high priority)

Sockets that are used frequently should be easy to reach. For example, an audio jack socket can be located on the front panel of the equipment to allow for easy connection and disconnection of headphones when needed. Sockets that are connected once and then forgotten about may be placed at the back of the equipment in order to hide cables.

Allow for easy matching of sockets and cables (high priority)

Cables and sockets should be colour matched to identify which cable goes into which socket, to avoid users having to read and interpret labels or symbols. A common example is the standard red and white colouring of phono sockets and phono plugs. Unless a standard exists that mandates the use of red and green to distinguish sockets, this colour combination should be avoided because it is the combination most likely to be confused by people with colour vision deficiencies.

Avoid accidental disconnection (high priority)

Plugs should fit securely into their sockets to avoid accidental disconnection when the equipment is moved or the cable is pulled. Large plugs, such as SCARTs, can be held securely in place by a clip.

How you could test for this

During the design phase of the product, run user tests on prototypes with older and disabled users who have reduced mobility or reach. After launch, gather feedback from customers over a period of realistic use of a few months or more about any problems that have occurred with regard to connections. This could be included as part of more general long term user trials encompassing the whole process of unpacking, setting up, learning and using the equipment.