Photograph of SNAPI cardsAbout SNAPI


Over the next few years one will need to be able to operate a range of self-service terminals to obtain access to goods and services. This will include ticket machines, information terminals, and cash dispensers (ATMs). In addition there will be terminals shared between a number of users. These include computers in schools and universities as well as television systems.

These terminals tend to be designed for a ‘typical’ user but have to be used by people with a wide range of abilities. Therefore the ability to customise the terminal to suit an individual’s needs would make the terminals usable by a wider range of people.

The cartoon sequence below demonstrates how SNAPI can be used:

Cartoon showing how SNAPI can be used to change user preferences on a public PC

Photograph of an elderly lady using a computerThe above cartoon sequence describes how SNAPI can be used on a public PC to alter user preferences. Consider a lady with poor vision who wants to purchase some DVDs as Christmas presents for her grandchildren. She knows she can obtain them cheaper on the internet but she does not have a computer at home. So she goes to the public library to use one of their terminals. However, the librarian finds it time consuming to set the computer terminal to give appropriate size of icons and text to suit the customer's needs.

The solution is that her special needs could have been stored on her library card. She just inserts the card into the computer terminal, and it automatically adjusts the size of icons and text, the colours and type of cursor to suit her needs. When she has finished her session, she removes the library card, and the computer automatically reverts to its normal settings. If she wants to change any of her special needs settings, this can be done on the terminal and stored back on her library card.

This is just one example of a situation where the user would find it advantageous to reconfigure the user interface to suit their individual needs. Other potential applications areas include transport, finance, television, government and local government and hot-desking environments.

The work on developing a system for coding these user requirements has been completed and it is a formal European and British standard. This coding system has been incorporated in the ITSO specification for smart card ticketing for public transport in the UK. The standard is also recommended in eGIF, published by the Cabinet Office, for all new cards issued by government departments, local government or any agency of government.

Currently being converted into an international standard is a specification for how to store information about an individual on a card. This specification includes the coding of user requirements according to the European standard. This means that any citizen card in accordance with the international standard will be compatible with the SNAPI system.

The software to reconfigure Microsoft Office has already been developed. In this case all the accessibility options associated with Windows XP can be coded on the card, and the system returns to its default settings as soon as the card is removed from the reader.

For adaptable user interfaces to be widely adopted, it is necessary to develop user friendly software and validate this software in a range of application areas. It is also necessary to disseminate best practice amongst the stakeholders. The SNAPI project has been set up to undertake these tasks.

The SNAPI project was established to:

The project aims to: