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SonoTech

Bringing accessibility to the live concert experience. 

Details

Timeline

Georgia Tech Design Project

Aug 2020 - Dec 2020 (4 months)

Tools

Design: Figma, Balsamiq, Illustrator

Research: Miro, Qualtrics, Analytics

My Tasks

Lead UX Designer: Sketching, Wireframing,  Prototyping, Visual Design

UX Researcher: User Interviews, Affinity Diagraming, Usability Testing

Problem

Around 466 million people worldwide suffer from some sort of disabled hearing loss. Formally defined as the Deaf Community, these individuals’ needs within public realms are often overlooked in existing applications and environments. While many technological innovations have arisen as a response to the need for accessibility within the realm of auditory impairments, the majority of applications have been targeted toward spheres of practicality such as grocery shopping and public transportation. However, within the realm of leisure activities, equitable accessibility for the Deaf Community seems to falter

In this project, our team strove to examine the needs of the Deaf Community and address this lack of accessibility, particularly within the live concert experience. Using our gathered research, we planned to design a system or product that takes into account the differing capabilities of the Deaf Community, particularly focusing on initiating awareness, inclusion, and accessibility. 

Live Concerts

Bridging the gap 

Deaf Accessibility

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Problem Statement

How might we design a system that enhances the live concert experience for the Deaf Community?

Solution

Through our research, our team found that an inclusive live musical experience for the Deaf Community would be best fulfilled by bringing awareness and availability to current assistive technologies at live concerts.
Consequently, we designed SonoTech, a mobile application aimed at facilitating use of assistive technologies for members of the Deaf Community at live concerts. 
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Awareness

Learn about various available assistive technologies at concerts and how to use them.

Availability

Request and book various assistive technologies for live concerts in advance.

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Accessibility

Gain information about the specific process of obtaining tech at concert venues.

Process

01

Situate

02

Research

03

Ideate

04

Prototype

05

Evaluate

Project Goals
Problem Space
Expected Methods
Secondary Research
Online Survey
User Interviews
Divergent Designs
Storyboarding
Evaluation 
Heuristic Evaluation
Usability Testing
Design Recommendations
Wireframing
Prototyping
Style Guide

Research

Our team decided to divide our research phase into two separate phases. Our secondary research phase consisted of in-depth exploration of our problem space and user context via competitive analysis. Our primary research phase consisted of an exploratory survey and 8 semi-structured user interviews.

Methods

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Secondary (2)
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Survey (150 responses)
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Interviews (5 participants)

Secondary Research

In order to fully understand our problem space, we first sought to conduct a literature review of the social, technical, and cultural context of the Deaf Community. We also explored different existing solutions/products within the realm of live concert assistive technology for members of the Deaf Community including the Google Glass, the Haptic Vest, and live interpreters.  

Goals

1

Identify differing capabilities and needs of the Deaf Community. 

2

Understand past and present sociotechnical context of the Deaf Community.

3

Identify existing technologies targeting problem space. 

4

Critique technologies targeted toward Deaf Community needs.

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Finding

Most existing applications address the 'hearing aspect' of live concert, but not necessarily helping individuals of the Deaf Community access these technologies. 

Surveys

In order to obtain first-hand knowledge of our primary user group, we created a Qualtrics-based survey composed of 22 binary, Likert scale, and short answer questions that would explore the Deaf Community and their sentiments toward live concerts and accompanying assistive technologies. Using Reddit, Facebook, and other social media applications, we recruited 45 members of the Deaf Community to complete our questionnaire. Following our survey, we utilized Qualtrics Analysis to analyze the results. Our major findings and statistics can be seen below: 

Goals

1

Explore the Deaf Community’s attitudes towards live music.

2

Uncover possible frustrations that exist for their live music experience.

3

Weigh contingent feelings of inclusion or exclusion in the live music experience for members of the Deaf Community.

4

Identify any current assistive technologies members of the Deaf Community use to experience live music/concerts.

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73%
primarily seek out family and friends to relieve stress.
90%
feel their live concert experience to be different to that of people without auditory impairments.
75%
of respondents have not used assistive technologies at live concert venue.
96%
96%
of respondents would be willing to use assistive technologies at live concerts.

Interviews

Since we first wanted to explore the Deaf Community’s overall experience at live concerts, we then decided to conduct semi-structured interviews with participants; the openness of semi-structured interviews would allow us to ask more about the “how” and “why” questions in order to have a clearer idea of their pain points and to better understand the reasons behind their opinions. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Using similar recruiting techniques to the survey, we were able to conduct 8, 1-hour long Skype semi-structured interviews composed of open-ended questions with individuals of the Deaf Community. Because of the auditory  limitations on our interview-style with our user group, we conducted text-based Skype interviews.

1

Investigate reasons why the Deaf Community may or may not be inclined to attend live concerts.

2

Identify particular aspects of live concerts that the Deaf Community values the most.

Goals

3

Learn about which technologies the Deaf Community prefers (if any) at live concerts.

4

Highlight any potential disparities between the concert experiences of those with and without hearing impairments. 

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In order to synthesize the user data we had gathered, my team and I used Miro to build an affinity diagram that would subsequently allow us to form research insights and eventual design requirements. 

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We were able to extract several research findings, validated by our survey analysis and affinity diagramming. 

Findings

Lack of Awareness 

Users are not aware of the assistive technologies provided by each live concert venue.

 

Lack of Accessibility

It is difficult for users to find assistive technology at live concert venues. 

Lack of Availability

Most users would be willing to use assistive tech at concerts if it is available. 

Confusing Request Process

The process of requesting assistive technologies at concerts is confusing/difficult.

 

Level of Engagement ​

There is a greater level of engagement with the concert when there is prior knowledge about assistive tech. 

Inequality

Most users view their concert experience to be at least somewhat different to people who are not auditory impaired.  

Design Requirements

Using our research findings, we compiled subsequent design requirements for our eventual design, both functional and non-functional in nature. 

Functional
Shows what assistive tech will be available at specific concerts.
Provides prior knowledge about concert characteristics. 
Provides  guidelines about how to access concert assistive tech.
Non-Functional

Functional

Provides prior knowledge about concert characteristics. 
Appeals to sensory abilities of Deaf Community.
Incorporated into ticket buying process.
Provides clear guidelines about how to access concert assistive tech
Supported by multiple ticket-buying platforms.

Personas 

Non-Functional

Based on our research findings and insights, we crafted two personas that reflected our users and their goals and characteristics. 
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Design

Following our research phase, we ideated upon divergent designs that addressed our research findings and design requirements. Upon choosing our top design based on evaluation findings, we created a final prototype using visual and interaction design principles. 

Divergent Sketches

We ideated upon two divergent low-fidelity designs that addressed our design requirements. 
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Lyrical

A mobile application that is aimed at providing lyrical aid to members of the Deaf Community both before & during live concerts.

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SonoTech

Mobile and/or Web-based application that is aimed at helping members of the Deaf Community use assistive technologies at live concerts.

Evaluation

  • Aimed at helping members of the Deaf Community use assistive technologies at live concerts. 
  • Users can find out which assistive tech are available at each concert venue, request and book assistive tech in advance, and gain background knowledge on each technology as well as how to locate it at the venue
In order to evaluate our two designs, we conducted both expert and user-based testing in the form of semi-structured interviews. This would allow us to determine which application to move forward with by evaluating features, functionalities, and overall adherence to design requirements. Following our interviews, we laid out our findings on Miro Boards, through which we conducted an objective analysis of each concept. 
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Findings
Based on the benefits, favorable features, accessibility issues, and feature shortcomings, we chose to move forward with SonoTech.  Before moving onto the next phase of wireframing, we compiled a list of three major improvements that we would need to implement. 
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Confusing Directions
There should be clear directions and photos on the application for each assistive technology as  the Deaf Community rely on visual stimuli.
Missing List of Tech
The list of available technologies should be shown before users buy their tickets so as to help them decide which concert to attend.
Lack of Information
There should be more information about how to access booked technologies sooner in the application.

Wireframing

Using the findings and improvement suggestions from our evaluation of our SonoTech low-fi sketches, we crafted a set of wireframes and the eventual interaction design.
 
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Findings
In order to go through another iteration of our prototype, we conducted rapid interviews to find inherent flaws and  confusing aspects of the application. 
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Design Requirements

Onboarding

 Removal of Video Tutorial
Removing the video option in the tutorial section of the application will make the experience more accessible for users. Users expressed that they  use the app in a concert environment where it is crowded and loud. Even if some members of the Deaf Community can hear (those who aren’t completely Deaf), videos with audio are not necessary and can hinder the experience for other users. By providing a tutorial with pictures and captions, this part of the app will be more accessible to a wider range of users and can also be successfully used in both quiet and loud environments.
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Consistency of Bottom Nav Bar
Users expressed confusion on why some screens had the three bottom icons at the bottom of the page and some did not. They implied that this made it difficult for them to visualize each individual screen. Additionally, they expressed that this inconsistency would make future functionalities, such as getting back to the home screen, confusing and unnecessarily complex. 
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Download Feature
 Because this app is assumed to be used in a concert environment, WiFi may not always be available. Even though a lot of the information in the app can be used prior to arriving at the concert venue, users may still want to refer to the information provided at the venue. By adding some sort of download feature, users will be able to download the necessary information and access it offline. This makes the app more accessible to a wider range of users, regardless of the context they are in, or even the phone plan they pay for.
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 Addition of Descriptive Text Under Ear Icon
Users expressed that they had trouble locating their booked assistive technology after the ticket-buying process, implying that the ear icon was not sufficient in letting users know how to access this page. Adding descriptive text to the ear icon  at the bottom of the ticket will make it much easier for users to navigate to the technologies page, especially coupled with the blue, underlined font. 
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 Replacement of "Retrieval" Icon
Users expressed confusion about what the location icon meant in our feedback sessions. The location icon is often synonymous with viewing a map, so users were confused when their expectation was not met and they were brought to the obtaining and returning technology screen. By changing the icon to a hand, the action of getting and returning technology will hopefully be more consistent with the mental models users have of that particular icon. 
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Final Prototype

Onboarding
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Requesting Assistive Tech
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Finding Assistive Tech
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Evaluation

In order to evaluate our final prototype, we chose to conduct a combination of expert-based and user testing with clear-cut research objectives. 

Usability Testing (4) 

Expert-Based Testing (6)

Methods

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User Testing

My team and I conducted 4 moderated usability sessions with participants of varying levels of deafness. This testing was unique as we had to remotely conduct the sessions over Skype messaging because the participants were hard of hearing. We gave participants task scenarios, asked them to "think-aloud," and finally requested their input on the overall usefulness of the app. 

Goals

1

Identify problems related to the navigation flow and user goals/tasks. 

2

Uncover missing functionalities  in the design necessary for a successful product.

3

Discover any confusing aspects of the design/structure. 

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Expert-Based Testing

We then conducted 6 expert-based heuristic evaluations with HCI faculty who had previously worked with the Deaf Community using "Nielson's 10 Heuristics."

Goals

1

Find existing problems on our application that don't adhere to design "heuristics." 

4

2

Identify overall improvements we can make to the design.

3

Uncover Figma errors inhibiting navigating through the app. 

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Design Recommendations

Given we had more time, these are a few of the design changes we would have made to SonoTech. 

App Features

  1. Add indications of the types of assistive technologies available at the venues through symbols/iconography/filter preferences. 
  2. Add a phrase next to the “download” icon such as “save to phone” to give users a better idea of what the icon means. 

  3. Implement the profile feature to allow users to “star” their preferred assistive technologies and be able to filter concerts based on these preferences.

  4. Include pictures of users using the specific assistive technology

Usability

  1. Add a phrase next to the “download” icon such as “save to phone” to give users a better idea of what the icon means. 
  2. Distinguish the "My Tickets" and "Home Screen" by either changing the layout, labels, coloring, or other design features. 
  3. Have an assistive technology icon in the task bar for users to be able to clearly see the various technologies available

Accessibility

  1. Incorporate more descriptive pictures on the assistive technology description page. 

  2. Add a screen reader functionality to accommodate for the Blind Community. 

  3. Design a web-based version for those with no access to mobile devices.

Next Steps

Aside from the new iteration of SonoTech we would have implemented had we more time, we would also have explored a key area of interest that our users expressed while engaging with our application: "How about incorporating this application with an existing ticket-buying platform rather than implementing it as a stand-alone application?" To my team and I, this was a compelling idea, and we saw both pros and cons in this idea. With further research in the future, perhaps we may be able to find sufficient evidence supporting this idea. 

Reflection

SonoTech undoubtedly served as the most unique project of my UX career thus far. Working with the Deaf Community was an amazing experience; all of my previous work had involved more common groups, and soon into this project, we found that the Deaf Community is very underrepresented in the realm of technology. While conducting research was undoubtedly more time-consuming and at times more challenging, for example conducting text-based interviews or usability testing, it was all the more rewarding to be able to work with this group of people. Since my passion as a designer lies in the area of accessibility, this was a dream project for me to engage in, and I am absolutely honored to have completed this piece of work.