Course: CS179: Design of Useful and Usable Interactive Systems
Course Level: Upper-level undergraduate
Course Description: “The course covers skills and techniques necessary to design innovative interactive products that are useful, usable and that address important needs of people other than yourself. You will learn how to uncover needs that your customers cannot even articulate. You will also learn a range of design principles, effective creativity-related practices, and techniques for rapidly creating and evaluating product prototypes. You will also have several opportunities to formally communicate your design ideas to a variety of audiences. You will complete two large team-based design projects.
Module Topic: Ethical Perspectives on Accessible Video Game Design
Module Author: Cat Wade
Semesters Taught: Spring 2019
Module Overview: In this module we consider what it means to “design for inclusion,” as well as what reasons software developers have to adopt inclusive design practices. We consider three different kinds of arguments for inclusive design. First, economic arguments: developers should design for inclusion because it is to their economic advantage. Second, harm-based arguments: failing to design for inclusion risks harming others in an unjustifiable way. Third, rights-based arguments: failing to design for inclusion violates the moral rights of others. After introducing students to these different kinds of arguments for inclusive design, we ask them to apply them to real-world case studies of software development, including video game development.
Connection to Course Technical Material: This module follows up directly on two previous classes on inclusive design. In the first, the professor for the course covers the basics of inclusive design and walks students through a number of concrete examples. In the second, a visiting speaker from the Perkins School for the Blind explains the distinctive needs of visually impaired users in greater detail and showcases software products the school has developed to meet those needs. These two classes set students up for the module’s more explicit and rigorous discussion of ethical reasons that developers have to design for inclusion.
Key Philosophical Questions:
Key Philosophical Concepts:
Assigned Readings: There are no assigned readings for this module.
Sample Class Activity: In this activity, students are given five examples of products or services:
For each example, students consider two questions in small groups:
Module Assignment: In the final project for this course, students work in teams to identify a need for a product, develop a product idea, produce and test a prototype, and submit a final report detailing the product development process. The assignment for this module is integrated into the final report and requires students to write an “accessibility statement” for their product. In the statement, students first identify distinctive needs that users of their product with disabilities might have. Second, students explain how they would modify their product to better accommodate these needs, as well as which needs they would choose not to accommodate. Finally, students justify their position on which needs of disabled users to accommodate by drawing on one of the three ethical perspectives discussed in class.