Briefly share your experiences going through Dialogue in the Dark. What were some of the feelings, thoughts, challenges and insights gained while role-playing a blind person?
The Dialogue in the Dark experience was a really “eye-opening” and captivating experience for me.
It was my first time at Dialogue in the Dark and to be completely honest I did not quite believe that it could emulate a true experience of being blind. However, I am glad I was proven to be completely wrong. As I entered the room, the darkness overwhelmed and at that moment I honestly felt “blind”. I could not even see my hands in front of me. Initially, I was pretty afraid of getting lost in the dark, but as the visually-impaired guide led us along the trail, I realised how my other sense quickly kicked in, such as hearing and touch, helping me to feel more comfortable in the dark environment. This made me appreciate my other senses more. For example, without my sense of sight, it made listen deeper to uncover the source of the sounds I heard, such as the tapping of wood or the sound of moving across gravel.
Role-playing as a blind person allowed be to understand and experience things from a first-person perspective. Applying this as a designer, putting yourself in per se your target audience’s shoes, allows you to better understand the needs and issues of your intended audience. For example, experiencing being blind could help a designer solve real issues or difficulties that the blind face. The designs created will also be tailored to the limitations of the blind rather than what we simply think is a limiting factor. Through this experience, I could see the importance and effectiveness of role-playing for design.
Drawing on your experience, can you think and list some of the benefits inherent in the design technique of role-playing?
From my experience, role-playing allows a designer to create more effective and purposeful designs.
Previously, before designing, when I researched about an issue I was interested in solving, I only looked online and trusted in articles on google to give me the interpretation of such issues. I simply relied on the word of mouth of strangers online rather than trying to experience the issues first-hand. Although it is impossible to role-play certain issues, we as designers should try our best for the ones that can be. I believe role-playing gives a designer more insight and truth when creating a design that will help others and make a change.
Can you think of some contexts where role-playing can be useful to help discover and definition of design challenges or contribute to the development of design solutions?
Some context where role-playing can be useful is to role-play as the target audience of the design project. It allows the designer to truly look at the challenges and solution from the receiving end rather than just the creating end.
Sometimes as a designer, I feel that it is easy to get caught up in the aesthetic value of design rather than the purpose of design. I often find myself neglecting the functionality of our design. Role-playing allows us to evaluate the purpose and usefulness of our design to the intended audience. This will, in turn, help us to create meaningful designs with a cause that actually works rather than simply look great.
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