1.2.12 – Define the term usability

Usability refers to the potential of a product, application or website to accomplish user goals. The term is not limited to computer science but extends to other products and services of all kinds.

Accessibility refers to the potential of a service, product, device or environment to serve and meet the needs of as  many individuals as possible.

Ergonomics or  human engineering refers to the design of safe and comfortable products, systems or processes, specifically for people. For example, computer hardware, such as keyboards, are shaped by ergonomic consideration in order to improve users’ comfort.

1.2.13 – Identify a range of usability problems with commonly used digital devices

GPS/navigation systems

  • Small screen.
  • Low-quality speakers.
  • Antenna with poor performance that makes it difficult to receive a satellite signal.
  • Inaccurate geographical data.
  • Outdated street data.
  • Inefficient routing software.

Game consoles

  • Some portable  game consoles have relatively small screens.
  • Buttons  may be too small.
  • Difficult to use outdoors (insufficient brightness).
  • Short battery life.


  • Excessive keyboard use  may lead to RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) syndrome.
  • Excessive use of a large, bright screen may cause eyesight problems or tire the eyes.
  • Poor room lighting conditions may lead to distracting reflections on the screen.
  • The  mouse of a PC is designed for right—handed people, making its use difficult for left-handed people.

Digital Cameras

  • Incorrect calibration of touch screen menus.
  • The need to hold the camera vertically, does not allow convenient navigation through the touch-screens.  An auto rotate screen option would increase usability.
  • If a camera does not have a flash capability or it is equipped with an inadequate flash, then the user has to purchase and carry an extra hardware component.
  • The buttons are too small, making it difficult to push them.
  • Some cameras require specific software to connect them with a computer and store or transfer files (no drag and drop files option).

Mobile Phones

  • The keyboard of a mobile phone is very small and as a result  many novice users elderly people or users with bad eyesight struggle to use it.
  • Some users don’t really need all the special features; they just need a basic device for calls and SMS messaging.
  • Some mobiles do not have a good battery life

1.2.14 – Identify methods that can be used to improve the accessibility of systems

  • Touch screens
  • Voice recognition
  • Text-to-speech
  • Braille keyboards
  • Braille printers
  • Graphical Interfaces

1.2.15 – Identify a range of usability problems that can occur in a system

  • Slow response in a ticketing system
  • Irresponsive touch screens in ticketing systems (constantly hitting the wrong buttons)
  • Voice recognition being the only way to interact with system misinterpreting commands
Dependent on the types of system this could have big consequences
Imagine a busy airport’s ticketing system not working……

1.2.16 – Discuss the moral, ethical, social, economic and environmental implications of the interaction between humans and machines

  • There used to be a lot of secretaries but now computers do most of the work.
  • Many factory jobs lost to automatization.
  • A robot can even wash your car today…
  • Today, huge supercomputers are burning energy to handle the interpretation of voice commands on speech recognition systems like Siri
  • Consumerism has lead us to change our electronic devices almost every 2 years when new editions are released. This creates huge amounts of toxic electronic waste.