Usability activities in South Africa

Local and national groups

Education and training

Usability services

Personal view: Jacques Hugo

The South African Usability community is small in size but large in quality. There is only a handful of practitioners, but their work is making a large impact in the local IT industry.

A number of educators are introducing HCI into computer science curricula, and practitioners are working with application developers to integrate UCD into the overall product development life cycle. In addition, the local HCI special interest group (CHI-SA, the South African ACM SIGCHI Chapter) is actively working with several stakeholders, including academics and non-government organizations to raise awareness of the impact of UCD in usability and overall organizational performance. In a few organizations, important progress has been made towards institutionalizing UCD.

Special attention is being given in South Africa to the relationship between multiculturalism and technology dissemination. HCI practitioners are paying special attention to the processes of enculturation, acculturation and cultural identities in the localization of software. They also have recognized the need to encourage developers to understand the role of the many cultural factors at work in the design of computing products, as well as the issues involved in inter- and multicultural software design and internationalization, and how they impact the bottom line for organizations.

The usability community, which essentially consists of the members of CHI-SA, is currently a group of 116 people, 16 of which are also members of ACM SIGCHI. After only 1 year as an official SIGCHI Chapter, CHI-SA distinguished itself in 2002 by presenting a workshop on multicultural HCI at the Development Consortium of CHI 2002 in Minneapolis.

More information may be obtained from the web site of Usability Sciences Consulting, UsabilityNet's South African member, or from Jacques Hugo. Information is also available from CHI-SA.

Updated July 2003.

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