interaction design :: user experience :: mobile tech
This seminar was a broad introduction to the field of assistive technologies, focusing as much on the devices themselves as on the people who use them. We spent time talking about government policies protecting the rights of individual with disabilities, the larger social and cultural contexts which shape the use and design of assistive technologies, and also some best practices for developing accessible content.
For a final project in this class, our group of three people conducted a usability evaluation of a sign-language recognition game designed to help children acquire American Sign Language (ASL) skills. Developed by Thad Starner's Contextual Computing Group at Georgia Tech, the video game uses computer vision to detect if the child has signed a phrase correctly. Very cool!!
Evaluations were conducted at the Atlanta Area School for the Deaf (AASD).
We created an evaluation plan that included two components:
1) Observation: Based on interviews with the school's language acquisition expert, we came up with several metrics to determine the efficacy of the game in terms of the child's satisfaction and progress. We observed the children as they played the game, and recorded the frequency with which certain events (e.g. the child asks for help from an adult) occurred.
2) Focus Group: Based on our observations, we conducted a focus group, involving eight children (aged seven to nine) who had been playing the game for two weeks. The challenges in conducting a focus group with deaf children were manifold, and we had two AASD staff members translating for us. In addition to asking them about their experiences with the game, another goal of this focus group was to determine directions for future game design. All children were given an 'AASD Game Designer' badge (shown at left) and asked to draw some ideas for a new game. Some of the visual aids I designed to assist in this exercise are shown below.
This poster was used as a reference for prompting the children for new game ideas. Each row contains the sign for a question (where?, who?, how?, why?), and several suggestions for elements of the game plot to answer the question. For example, Where will the game take place? In a house, in the forest, on the moon?
The purpose of the game was for the children to describe (using sign language) the relative position of objects on screen (for a slightly more in-depth description of the game plot, see this flyer). When observing the children playing the game, we noticed that they would consistently get certain of these positional phrases wrong (is the kitten in the flowers, or behind them?). We determined this was because the visual arrangement of the objects was ambiguous. This poster was used during the focus group to assess some of our proposed re-designs for these ambiguous phrases (original is labeled '1', redesign labeled '2').
Here is a paper prototype (created in Illustrator) for an administrative interface to the game. This would allow a teacher or language specialist to track the child's progress with the game over a period of time, to detemine if a child's ASL skills were improving. This design was highly received by our collaborator at AASD.