Ability-based User Interfaces


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This video illustrates how our SUPPLE system can be used for automatically generating user interfaces adapted to users' individual motor and vision abilities. Higher quality QuickTime versions of this video are also available: 480 x 270 (6 MB), 640 x 360 (7 MB) or High Definition (12 MB).

Today's human-computer interfaces are typically designed based on several assumptions: 1) that they are going to be used by an able-bodied individual, 2) who is using a typical set of input and output devices, and 3) who is sitting in a stable, warm environment. Any deviation from these assumptions, be it a hand tremor due to aging, use of an eye tracker, or the jostling caused by riding on a bus, may drastically hamper the person's effectiveness---not due to any inherent barrier to interaction, but because of a mismatch between the user's effective abilities and the assumptions underlying the interface design.

In contrast to the current design practice, we advance our vision of ability-based user interfaces: we believe that user interfaces should be designed with each person's unique abilities, devices, and environment in mind. Because of the myriad of distinct individuals, each with his or her own abilities, devices, and environments, many such personalized interfaces are needed.

To address the scalability challenge, we have developed SUPPLE, a system for automatically generating user interfaces adapted to a person's abilities and preferences. The results of our study with 11 participants with motor impairments demonstrate that such automatically generated ability-based interfaces significantly improve both performance and satisfaction compared to the default user interfaces shipped with today's software.


Several specific projects are part of our effort to develop personalized ability-based user interfaces.

Selected Media Mentions

Pimp My Program a TV spot by Ivanhoe Discoveries and Breakthroughs Inside Science. March, 2009

Special GUI for Your Eyes Only by Anuradha Menon, The Future of Things. November 24, 2008.

An interface for your eyes only by Lee Bruno, The Guardian. August 28, 2008.

Tweaking user interfaces to match abilities, disabilities by Yun Xie, ArsTechnica. July 17, 2008

Every User Deserves a Personalized Interface by Maria José Viñas, The Chronicle of Higher Education. July 16, 2008

For your eyes only: Custom interfaces make computer clicking faster, easier Press Release by Hannah Hickey, UW News Office. July 15, 2008.


This page was last modified on January 19, 2014.