Software usability specialists, Dr Susan Dray and Dr Stefana Broadbent, are two of the big draw cards at the Human-Computer Interaction conference to be held on 10-12 September, 2001, at the University of Pretoria. CHI-SA, the forum for IT experts and academics interested in user-centred software design, will be hosting the Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) - an exciting event for South African interactive software designers. CHI-SA is the South African Chapter of the American Association for Computing Machinery's special interest group for human-computer interaction (ACM SIGCHI).
The CHI-SA 2001 conference is the second South African HCI conference and forms yet another step towards building a forum in Africa for the exchange of ideas, skills and information in the important field of human-computer interaction. The primary objective of the conference is to create an awareness of HCI and usability practices. This will be augmented by the participation of some of the world's foremost experts and academics, and will emphasise the unique needs of users in a country characterised by diversity of culture, language, education, economic means and computer experience.
The conference will feature a range of relevant and popular themes, offering value for academics, students, business people, IT professionals, media developers, usability practitioners and end users alike. On the first evening of the conference there will be a press conference and panel discussion between Dr Dray, Dr Broadbent and representatives from some of South Africa's universities and leading software design companies.
"This is a very significant event for the South African software design community and the involvement of our international experts says a lot about the importance they and other interface design experts place on the development of usable software in this country," says Jacques Hugo, Principal of Usability Sciences Consulting and CHI-SA Chair.
Dr Dray, an experienced CHI consultant and usability advocate, and a very popular lecturer and keynote speaker, is the President of Dray and Associates, a specialist design firm in Minneapolis, USA. With a vast list of achievements and publications to her credit, she has become one of the most influential and respected consultants in the international CHI community and she is making an important contribution to changing the face of modern computing.
Dr Broadbent, a researcher from the well-known IconMedialab in France, is equally influential and has an international reputation for her work on web usability and multicultural user-centred design.
"The timing of Drs Dray and Broadbent's visit could not be more perfect," says Hugo. "Earlier this year CHI-SA was formally chartered as a Chapter of ACM SIGCHI, and their visit will help to highlight the important contribution that the Chapter will make to the IT community. We face a staggering backlog in South Africa with regard to our awareness of the impact of usability and user-centred design methods on productivity. People like Susan and Stefana are some of the most important advocates and visionaries for the creation of more usable software and I expect them to add a lot of value to our local efforts."