Date of Award

Spring 6-2021

Document Type

Thesis (Undergraduate)

Department

Cognitive Science Program

First Advisor

Lorie Loeb

Second Advisor

Jonathan Philips

Abstract

In order to navigate the world, humans have historically made tools that allowed them to exploit their environment in ways beyond their natural physical and mental capacities. This continues to be true in the information age. Being able to use digital tools in this age affords the individual agency to influence and participate in the world and so it is critical that this capacity is equally available to all people. Current standards of accessibility attempt to create accommodations for overlooked populations in the form of guidelines, but these rely on a flawed approach to accessibility that is surface-level and lacks understanding of the populations to which it caters. However, distributed cognition offers an approach through which we can understand users through their interaction strategies with technology and through which we can understand technology as an extension of the mind. This paper explores the short-comings of current approaches to accessible design, how distributed cognition has been used to describe human-computer interactions and how this can be extended to understand accessible design. A case study of how a distributed cognition approach may transform accessible design for individuals with Autism Spectrum Condition is developed and discussed.

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