Designing for Inclusion

Part 3: Interviews and Over-shoulder studies

We all have limits to our abilities — physical, social, emotional and cognitive. How can we design to embrace these universal things that make us human, but also create solutions that are highly adaptive to an individual person?

We as designers can help to remove obstacles, enabling people to participate in society no matter their individual challenges. Let’s imagine a future that puts human empathy at their design core!

Talking to experts

Michaela Franke works as a rehabilitation coach for the visually impaired. She teaches them how to get along in daily life by applying a number of super helpful tricks, but she also does white cane training. We were fortunate to get her on the phone for half an hour, receiving valuable insights for the upcoming design process. Here’s what we learned:

Meet Elke

We went to the grocery store with Elke who has less than 40% eye-sight
Reading small type with little contrast can be very challenging to Elke.
Elke looking for “froot loops” cereals.

“I buy the same things all over again because I’ve learned where I can find them. Picking up something different and discovering something new can be tough and time consuming, making it a rare, challenging luxury for me.”

– Elke, 40% eye-sight

Further insights on grocery shopping

– She has to remember a product’s position within the grocery store because for her, the wayfinding system is mostly impossible to use

On dealing with vision impairment in general

– She dislikes medical aids such as magnifying glass which reveal herself as visually impaired

Listen to the interview

Listen to the most interesting excerpts of the interview with Elke in German, where she talks about how she orientates in unknown places, why some assistive tools are really annoying to her and how she deals with everyday life.

“I spent a lot of time hiding my impairment — which ends up being truly stressful to me and is wasting a lot of energy”

– Elke, 40% eye-sight


What is this about?

Inclusion is a relevant and up-to-date topic widely debated recently. The WHO revised their definition of disability, shifting it from a fixed attribution to a context sensitive consideration. We as designers can help to remove obstacles, enabling people to participate in society no matter their individual challenges. A human centered design approach with deep research and observation, rapid prototyping and cheaper yet more powerful technology can make quite an impact.

The designer behind the project

This is a project by Philipp Steinacher, Dominic Rödel, Laurids Düllmann and Henrik Hagedorn. We study interface design at the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam.

Read more

The website of Microsoft Research Design Expo 2015 provides in-depth information on the overall project.

We are a group of interaction design students working and we are part of the Microsoft Research Design Expo 2015 on inclusive design.

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