Briefly share your experience going through Dialogue in the Dark. What were some of the feelings, challenges, and insights gained while role playing a blind person?
Dialogue in the Dark is an experience that is really eye-opening to me as I really love participating in role-playing activities to further understand a situation better. Going into the exhibition, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to see anything and be in complete darkness. I felt calm because I wasn’t alone going through this experience so I wasn’t as worried as if I were to go in alone.
Some of the challenges faced inside the exhibition would be my ability to decipher alphabets through touch. I realized how extremely reliant I am on my sense of sight. It took me quite a long time to figure out the words at the Raffles monument and I was only able to figure out the name of the monument after someone else figured the other part of the name. The cursive sign was worse as I originally am not really able to figure cursive in real life that well so when my sense of sight is unavailable, my sense of touch simply were lost.
The insights that I’ve gained whole role-playing as a blind person would be that everyone of them faced a really confusing and exhausting phase in the beginning of their blindness as they try to adapt to their new condition. Things that we have in our everyday lives are taken rather for granted when we are able to see such as doing really basic daily routines such as walking in the park, crossing a bridge, crossing a pedestrian crossing, press the doorbell of our house or simply walking on the pavement without bumping onto any obstruction. These are the simple things that blind people would have to face and adapt to thus making them walk a little slower than we do as they have to pay way more attention to their surroundings.
Drawing on your experience, can you think and list some of the benefits inherent in the design research technique of role playing?
Role-playing is a great design technique as it really creates an immersive experience for the participants. Through Dialogue in the Dark, we were able to fully immerse ourselves in the environment and point of view of a blind person. This technique is also very effective in relaying the message and cause which was to raise awareness of the visually impaired in Singapore.
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 a form of creative problem solving for the participants as they are placed in a “problem” situation which requires them to solve within their own groups. Just like in Dialogue in the Dark, we were highly dependant on each other and the guide to help up through the experience. Role-playing is also allows participants to actually work in a physical space or experience and through that, they are also able to see issues that might not have shown up on mere 2D or 3D designs.