Briefly explain your experience going through Dialogue in the Dark. What were some of your feelings, thoughts, challenges and insights gained while role-playing as a blind person?
I’ve had to rely on my glasses ever since second grade. My vision progressively gets worse every year and it is always a lingering fear that I will lose my vision all together. This experience was surreal. I felt so vulnerable that I could not rely on my sense of sight to navigate. The biggest challenge was trying to anticipate my surroundings— I was wrong every time. This experience made think about the purpose of handrails, textures, and sound in designing for blind people. Even though we were told the simulation was on flat ground, I was still scared to walk fast and fall. The boat and crosswalk simulation were the scariest. There were so many distracting sounds: traffic, waves, talking, it made it hard to focus on how to navigate and there was a fear of getting lost.
Drawing on your experience, can you think and list some specific benefits inherent in the design research technique of role playing?
- Designing beyond our own scope of experiences is essential to creating products that are inclusive of everyone.
- This emphasizes the importance of understanding your demographic and conducting extensive primary and secondary user research and testing.
Can you think of some contexts where role-playing can be useful to help discover and define design challenges or contribute to the development of deisgn solutions?
Role-playing creates empathy. It gives the designer a different perspective on how their designs will be interacted with. When designing experiences, it must be human-centred. A design is deemed useless if it fails to work for its audience. This role-playing experience is a reminder that the first step to the design process is to discover the issues that need solutions.