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Ergonomics. 1995 Nov;38(11):2262-80.

A user-centred approach to the design and evaluation of auditory warning signals: 1. Methodology.

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Department of Psychology, University of Plymouth, UK.


This paper presents a method for the design and evaluation of auditory warning signals modelled on an existing internationally standardized method for evaluating public information systems (ISO/DIS 7001: 1979). The procedure is essentially user-centred, capitalizing upon users' associations between sounds and their meanings. The procedure is presented in a step-by-step manner, from the initial identification of referents for which warnings might be required, through the generation of ideas for warning sounds, an appropriateness ranking test, a learning and confusion test, an urgency mapping test, a recognition test and an operational test. Practical issues are discussed with respect to each of the stages, and suggestions are made as to courses of action that might be taken if problems are encountered. Theory behind the relationship between sound and meaning is discussed with reference to the practical issues addressed.

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