The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society calls the field "the discovery and exchange of knowledge concerning the characteristics of human beings that are applicable to the design of systems and devices of all kinds." Human factors scientists and engineers study "the assignment of appropriate functions for humans and machines" and work to "achieve compatibility in the design of interactive systems of people, machines, and environments to ensure their effectiveness, safety, and ease of performance."
In the Human Factors Branch (ANG-E25), our job title is engineering research psychologist, though our profession is known by many names, including ergonomics, human factors engineering, engineering psychology, human-computer interaction, human-system integration, user-centered design, usability engineering, and cognitive ergonomics.
Human factors is a multidisciplinary field. Most human factors professionals were trained as cognitive, experimental, or organizational psychologists, or as industrial or system engineers. Others working in human factors have backgrounds in biomechanics, occupational safety and health, information and library science, computer science and software engineering, cognitive science and artificial intelligence, graphic design, education, sociology, and management. These divergent fields are brought together by their interest in improving human endeavor by designing effective equipment and processes.
All our work is coordinated by Dr. Eric Neiderman, the ANG-E25 branch manager, and the appropriate principal investigator within the branch. See the People section to learn which researchers have the expertise related to your research question or topic area.
We have active research collaborations with other FAA organizations, agencies, industry, and academic partners, including
The term usability usually refers to the process of making systems easy to use and effective for people in general. The term accessibility usually refers to making systems usable for people with physical or cognitive disabilities. Accessibility is mandated by law and federal regulation, such as the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS) and Section 508. The terms universality and internationalization are related concepts referring to making systems usable by people of all ages and cultures.
There are many general guidelines and recommendations for improving website usability available online, or from bookstores and libraries. Some of this information has been consolidated and applied to FAA websites in the Web-Based Portal Computer-Human Interface Guidelines, written by Vicki Ahlstrom and Kenneth Allendoerfer from our branch. Some other useful resources include: