Ability-based design: Concept, principles and examples

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Current approaches to accessible computing share a common goal of making technology accessible to users with disabilities. Perhaps because of this goal, they may also share a tendency to centralize disability rather than ability. We present a refinement to these approaches called ability-based design that consists of focusing on ability throughout the design process in an effort to create systems that leverage the full range of human potential. Just as user-centered design shifted the focus of interactive system design from systems to users, ability-based design attempts to shift the focus of accessible design from disability to ability. Although prior approaches to accessible computing may consider users' abilities to some extent, ability-based design makes ability its central focus. We offer seven ability-based design principles and describe the projects that inspired their formulation. We also present a research agenda for ability-based design. © 2011 ACM.