Access

interaction design, 3D design, visual design

Spring 2015

Background

The project prompt was to design a physical installation to promote an organization. I chose the Inclusive Design Research Centre because I'm fascinated by inclusive design.

Inclusive Design Research Centre (IDRC)

The IDRC is a research and development centre at OCAD University that consists of an international community of open source developers, designers who work together to ensure that emerging information technology and practices are designed inclusively.

Their goal is to promote digital inclusion by creating tools, strategies and resources that support the full range of human diversity with respect to ability, language, culture, gender, age and other forms of human difference.

Installation Goal

Design an environment that creates empathy and understanding for the importance of digital accessibility, as well as encourages proactive implementation of web accessibility standards among conference attendees of a digital technology conference.

Highlights

Why don't people care more about accessibility? One reason is that abled people do not struggle with mundane everyday tasks like the disabled. Tasks that we don't give a second thought to like opening a door or walking down stairs can be a massive obstacle for the disabled.

Concept

The installation creates a scenario where a seemingly simple task, getting from point A to B by opening a glass door, transforms into a difficult endeavor, requiring the person to walk the long way, as an analogy for the everyday struggle that disabled people experience.

Creating Empathy

Passerbys are given a pin at point A and invited to try and open the door with their pin to get to point B.

Unfortunately the door will not open for anyone, forcing the person to take the long way through the maze in order to reach point B.

As the person walks through the maze, they trigger motion sensors that project facts and call to actions related to digital accessibility onto the screens.

The experience concludes with a prompt to tweet about the experience in order to generate awareness for the importance of digital accessibility.

Technical

As the installation is conceptual, it does not address price constraints as Holopros are incredibly expensive.

The installation consists of modular pieces of glass panels to allow for easy transportation and setup.

I conducted research to make sure that the size of the installation accomodated for wheelchairs. It wouldn't make do to have an accessibility installation be inaccessible eh.

Process

Conceptualization

The goal of inclusive design is to allow people to do things by themselves. Objects or experiences discriminate when they are designed without thought for accessibility. I wanted to subject participants to discrimination and make them feel the anger and frustration related to it.

To do so I brainstormed different physical metaphors for discrimination such as closed doors, you must be this tall to ride signs, obstacle courses.

The concept of doors resonated with me because it is an everyday object and discrimination is an everyday occurrence for the disabled. Doors also metaphorically symbolize opportunities.

Many ideas came to mind such as doors that wouldn't open or required lots of effort to open. As I looked for inspiration, I came across an installation that consisted of a maze with many doors. Each door required the person to solve a physical puzzle before it would open.

This inspired me to integrate the door concept with a maze. The purpose of a maze is to make travelling from one point to another difficult. Whereas a door is often a barrier between one point and another. Abled people can easily get from point A to B because many doors are open to them. For the disabled, that door is inaccessible so they must traverse a maze to accomplish the same task. Such my concept was born.