PROJECT TYPE: Designing for Accessibility
TIME FRAME: 4 weeks
YouChoose is a tool to help special needs students reach their individual education milestones. Teachers and parents can create custom video playlists, which students can unlock by completing quick cognitive or physical therapy activities.
Special needs education is built on helping students reach individual milestones rather than following a pre-set curriculum. This system is effective, but requires a lot of time and effort from parents and teachers to be successful. It also requires extended focus from the students, which can be challenging for many of them.
Is there a way to improve the experience students, teachers, and parents have with the special ed system?
I started this project by learning as much as I could about special ed and the needs of students, teachers, and parents in that ecosystem. So I visited a special needs respite facility for a full weekend where I was able to conduct interviews with the staff and parents. The interview format wasn't really successful with the students, so I facilitated a design workshop where they could express themselves better through collaborative activities.
I synthesized the data I had gathered to create personas and journey maps, which helped keep my process grounded in empathy for the users. I crafted how might we's and ideated solutions until I developed the integrated lesson framework that would become YouChoose.
I built conceptual maps based on user goals to establish the app's features and architecture. Then I sketched layouts on note cards so I could rapidly iterate designs. I also made a style guide as a reference so my visual designs would account for accessibility requirements. After building an interactive prototype, I went back to the special needs organization to conduct usability testing. I used their feedback to make changes and develop the app's final design.
This project helped to reinforce just how important accessibility consideration are when designing. For these students, a minor change in color or font could prevent them from learning a crucial concept in class. Seeing that impact first hand made sure that I'll keep those considerations in mind during future projects.
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FINAL VERSION: The usability testing led to some significant changes in the final design. The admin flow became the home page, where the teacher or caregiver could select the playlist for the specific student they're working with. I also changed the visual feel to be more friendly and playful, but not childish.