In many occasions whether it's casual or professional meetings, it's often a challenge to enable communications between hearing individuals and Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) individuals. An interpreter would usually need to be requested before these meetings.
Our team was working on designing an app to break the barrier and provide reliable assistance in communication between hearing individuals and DHH individuals so that they can communicate and collaborate in professional environments with less frustration.
There's a communication gap between hearing people who do not know ASL and deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) people, when without an interpreter, vice versa. And there's no app providing assistive service for the both communities to collaborate under professional settings.
• Enable the real-time communication between hearing and DHH individuals
• Design for professional settings
• Promote a good user experience.
UX Research/ UX Designer in team
Created research plan, conducted user interviews, collaborated with 2 RIT students to shape the initial design(low-fi and mid-fi prototype).
Sole Product Designer
I then iterated and refined the solution (hi-fi prototype) individually, including visual design and interaction design.
Timeline: 2019 (3 months)
I redesign the solution in 2021(2 weeks).
Understanding the Problem
We performed the background research focused on learning the following topics as well as user interview to have a deeper understanding of the problem.
Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) community
Assistant Technology accessible to the DHH Community
Although some tools exist to automatically capture speech and make the text available later, research suggests that the design of these technologies — such as available customization options — may impact how DHH and hearing people communicate in real time.
Our solution would harness automatic speech-to-text, vibro-tactile, and other technical capabilities to enable fluid, real-time communication between DHH and hearing individuals on one or more mobile devices. Effective solutions would enhance communication particularly in professional environments where DHH individuals work with hearing counterparts.
Our background research highlighted specific situations in the daily lives of DHH users where they would need to communicate with hearing users who did not know ASL.
Each situation presents its own set of challenges, here are the primary challenges that commonly shared.
•Language barrier exists between the hearing community and the deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH) community.
•Inaccuracy and inefficiency of current assistive technology.
•Feeling self-conscious when using an assistive device in a public setting.
Understanding the Users
We wanted to be mindful and empathic with the users and deepen the understanding of challenges they face on a daily basis. We conducted a series of interviews with an expert user including contextual inquiry, collect user feedback on our ideas, sketches, and prototypes, etc.
Proto Personas to Align Stakeholders
•Most DHH users prefer video-based over text-based apps.
•DHH users prefer interpreters over translation/speech-to-text systems.
• Most DHH users handles daily life well, need assistance in professional occasions
The Importance of Technical ASL Interpreters
Our research uncovered the importance of technical ASL interpreters under professional settings, such as in classes, business meetings and courts.
We updated the persona based on the interview insights.
How might we enable real-time communication between hearing individuals and DHH individuals under professional occasions so that they can collaborate more efficiently?
We started the design process from ideation with 30 sketches, then we studied the competitors, prioritized features and came with our winner idea. We kept iterating our solution through user feedback, from paper prototype to final high-fidelity porotype.
•How might we provide users a smooth experience in requesting an interpreter?
•How might we benefit users specifically who need technical interpreters?
•How might we improve the accessibility for DHH community during video meetings?
Combining our design goals, user study insights, background research and competitor analysis, we prioritized the features.
Key Features for MVP
Sketches and Task Flows
In order to evaluate the user flows and the basic interactions, we invited our expert/super user to test on paper prototype (quick, cheap and easy),we asked the participant to go through the interpreter requesting flow and join the meeting.
What I noticed from the user feedback,
• the participant was confused of what are clickable (buttons), due to the limitation of paper prototype which are using note stickers in just two colors;
• the design also missed the interaction design in the video meeting feature.
So I decided to work on refining the task flows based on the feedback.
Wireframes & Iterations on user feedback
Here's the link of some iterations we worked as a team. After then, I worked on refining the solution myself, here I showcased some of the design process below.
High-Fidelity Prototype & Job Stories
When there is an upcoming meeting for team assignment discussion with both hearing and DHH teammates involved, I want to request an Interpreter online, so everyone gets synced at the same pace.
Job Story 2:
When my teammate is sharing a screen, I want to ask a question/add more details at some point, so my teammates/colleagues and I will get a deeper understanding or an agreement.
Before the final usability testing, I A/B tested with 3 of my friends on certain screens that I had a difficult time to make decision on which one to choose.
I then created these two hi-fi prototypes and tested the flows with 5 participants (3 are DHH).
In order to answer questions:
•Can users complete the interpreter request easily?
•Is the design of "lightbulb" intuitive?
•Is the video meeting design accessible and fulfill the needs of communicating in ASL?
It was one of the most challenging project that I've been working on. I experienced:
•How to interview DHH individuals.
•How to design for accessibility.
•How to design solution for various use cases.
For the video meeting, there are tons of different cases, for example, considering the group size and how many people need a larger video sections for display, etc. I had a difficult time organizing the user flow for different use cases. Even now, the design hasn't covered all the use cases and it still needs further study in the future.