Reflection on Role Playing as a Research Technique

Briefly share your experience going through Dialogue in the Dark. What were some of the feelings, thoughts, challenges and insights gained while role-playing a blind person?

I have been to Dialogue in the Dark, four years ago with my fellow Polytechnic CCA committee members. At first, I was a little scared of what I would experience again, as my previous experience was not a pleasant one. However, when I was going through the role-playing on Wednesday, I felt very insecure being the last to enter again. Unexpectedly, when I entered it felt familiar, It didn’t feel cold but warm. I realised that my classmates were far more worried and scared than me as it was their first experience. They were calling for help. The professional that helped us through the experience was very warm and passionate about her teaching. Later on, I was able to calm myself down inside because of the gentle pleasant sound of birds and the water. 

The main challenge was to focus on our sense of touch and hearing as our sight has to be kept in our pockets. In the experience, we were told to touch a sculpture above us. It was a challenge for me as I would have to tiptoe and reach for it. I was calling for help, my classmates came to the rescue, held my hand and pull my hands towards the sculpture. Another challenge was, I could not differentiate the cursive writing on the wall, as I could not imagine the words as the letters were all connected in a line. At first, I felt that my sense of touch was good but toward the last part of the journey, I could not tell the cursive letters until now.

Some insights gains were being in the shoes of a blind individual, I felt that finding and reaching things from below is an obstacle that blind people face regularly. It has been a case to look at. As a blind individual, it was a challenge for them to learn to adapt to the environment since young. Not only that, they only rely on their sense of touch, sound and smell to get them home or to specific areas. Also, a Blind individual is not able to differentiate different colours. They have to bring someone along to inform them about the colours when they are shopping. Therefore, after listening to the professional during the heart to heart talk session, I learned to further appreciate our senses and not take it for granted.


Drawing on your experience, can you think and list some of the benefits inherent in the design research techniques of role-playing?

Role-playing is stimulation that helps to draw out information to have a better user experience. Through the experience, I held the responsibility to finish the journey in the dark because it makes me feel involved being in the shoes of a blind individual. During the process, it draws out design technique and cares with a deeper understanding of the social issues in Singapore as compared to just researching online. Hence, the process lets us use all our senses to create and raise awareness to the public. 


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?

Role-playing is like a stimulation that relates to real-world scenarios. With it, it could help design process and development to create a better user experience for all. In Role-playing, designers can take on roles and make mistakes in order to build an understanding in different situations. At the same time, a designer could develop critical thinking skills to come up with an effective solution for users too. For example, participating in the dialogue in the dark, there are challenges faced that help to create a better understanding of the situation through different senses such as touch and listening. Through the sense of touch, we could create pop-out printed marketing collateral with creation similar to the tactile paving to cater to the blind individuals so that they will understand and aware of the information on the poster. Not only that, but Designers can also create an innovative interaction whereby sound, smells and pop out are used in one interaction. Hence, it can help the blind or visually impact the individual.