Access.Able is a travel app that utilizes real time updates and community generated content to create a more inclusive and empowering travel experience for users who identify as having a disability.
My role
UI/UX Designer
Scrum Team Leader
Team
Kent Brown - UX Designer
Karina Silva - UX Designer
Duration
October 2019
Access.Able was a part of a 2 week intensive design sprint focused on social good and innovation. My team and I researched new opportunity spaces, and decided to design a concept for a mobile app that would enable travel to be a more inclusive experience for people who identify with a disability, an often underrepresented demographic.

Current Problem

People who identify as having a disability (a physical or mental condition that limits a person's movements, senses, or activities), struggle today because of a lack of information about accessibility accommodations in public and commercial spaces.
Popular apps that are designed to provide information about travel, navigation, hospitality and public spaces often make it difficult, or sometimes impossible for users with disabilities to access accessibility information that is specific to their needs.

Solution

Access.Able is a concept app that utilizes real time updates and community generated content to create a more inclusive and empowering travel experience for users who identify with a disability.
Access.Able's content would consist of accessibility information provided by local governments and private businesses, as well as user generated content; users are able to review a particular location, attraction, or establishment, and leave comments regarding their experiences.

Users can also personalize the alerts or push notification they receive by creating an account. The information curated on the application will reflect whatever conditions or needs are specified by the user in their account preferences.

Research and Design Strategy

Competitive Matrix & Analysis

The lack of prominent accessibility information on mainstream travel and navigation apps inspired our team to develop a concept for a consolidated travel review platform.
Popular websites specializing in accessibility travel information (The Mobility Project, Accessible Go, Travel Ability Summit) are often limited in the scope of services they provide. Accessibility information relevant for people with physical disabilities is provided by many travel platforms, but information for people diagnosed with mental or sensory conditions (ex: colorblindness, epilepsy, autism, etc.) is an often overlooked and neglected topic. Another issue for many users is that there are few native mobile apps dedicated mainly to accessibility information, making the websites themselves less accessible for people traveling and relying on transit.
General lifestyle and travel platforms such as Rick Steve's Europe, MSN Lifestyle and TripAdvisor provide a resource for accessibility information through user generated forums and reviews. The location of this information can be often buried by various categorical layers, redirected pages, and hidden affordances.

Company Partnership Proposal

For the purpose of content and an initial source for user generated data, Access.Able would ideally collaborate with and follow the API model of a widely used  platform for travel information, such as TripAdvisor.
TripAdvisor is a company that allows millions of users to review, comment and create forums regarding places of interest around the world. Travelers across the globe use theTripAdvisor site and app to browse more than 795 million reviews and opinions of 8.4 million accommodations, restaurants, experiences, airlines and cruises.
TripAdvisor’s ability to provide users the platform to generate their own content, and share information within a global network aligns with the target functionalities of Access.Able. For our 2 week sprint, we wanted to make accessibility needs a prominent aspect for the travel experience, so that potential users could feel confident finding the exact information they needed.

User Research

Our team interviewed 5 individual users who either identified as having a disability, or having a close relationship to someone with a disability.
The goal of our user interview was to discover how well users were able to currently obtain accessibility information regarding public spaces. Our team also wanted to determine which digital resources were currently being used by interviews during scenarios such as encountering unexpected roadblocks when traveling with a disability, or with an individual with a disability. The following are common themes, quotes and insights collected from all 5 user interviews.

User Persona

After synthesizing all the data from our interviews, we created our persona, Michael, as a reference point for decisions on our final design.
Michael's scenario of navigating a new city with limited mobility helped us uncover features that would help alleviate many of the common roadblocks encountered by users from our interviews. His scenario helped us consider additional features that are not currently available in other travel or navigation apps.
Michael, Age 35
Location : New York, NY
Michael is traveling to London for a vacation. He just suffered a serious ACL injury to his leg a few weeks before his flight. He is currently experiencing chronic pain, and has much more difficulty getting around than he usually does.

“You don’t really think about certain things, or notice, them until you need it.”
GOALS
Visit as many attractions as possible during his visit in London.
Find places that can accommodate his lack of mobility.
Find places that can accommodate his lack of mobility.
PAIN POINTS
Cannot navigate safely in certain spaces due to mobility limitations.
Is frustrated by the way he is currently receiving navigation information
Disappointed that certain locations lack assistance and accommodations for his condition.
NEEDS
Information about accessibility features in the places he wants to visit.
Lodging and transportation that enables him to travel safely and comfortably.
A platform where he can easily search for accessibility information.
BEHAVIORS
Likes to travel alone and values his independence.
Usually searches for location info prior to visiting.
Usually searches for location info prior to visiting.

Design Development

CORE FEATURES

Our team prioritized designing these following features, based off the
feedback and insights from our user interviews.
To gain a better understanding of how we can help digital marketers like Tyler, we created a visual representation, or storyboard, of a situation that can be solved through Curastory.
Users are able to review a particular location, attraction, or establishment, and leave comments and photos describing their experiences.
Users can personalize the alerts sent to them by creating an account. The information curated will reflect whatever conditions or needs are specified by the user.
Users can customize the coloration, line weight, and size of text on the screen for ease of reading.

User Flow

Our team prioritized designing these following features, based off the feedback and insights from our user interviews.

1 of 5 - Joining Access.Able

Creating An Account

Users creating an account on Access.Able have the option to go through a swipe- through introduction to basic functions available on the app, accompanied by original brand illustrations.

If assistance or customization is needed during the signup process, users can access options through the vertical circle symbol.

2 of 5 - Customization

Customizing Content
Users have the ability to customize the appearance of their screens by adjusting font size, or by adding a high contrast grayscale filter by pressing the ISA symbol. The hamburger menu on the top left presents options to change languages, units/currency, and request support through a help chat.

The editorial content on the home page is curated based on the preferences and information provided by the user through their account profiles.

3 of 5 - Search For A Destination

Search For A Destination
The Location button in the home screen allows users to search for a specific destination, or pressed the Local button to view businesses and user uploaded content in surrounding localities using the community map (See 5 of 5).

4 of 5 - Filtering Reviews

Filtering Reviews
Users have the ability to comment and rate destinations, particularly on how accessible they found their experience at the location to be. Using the menu with accessibility symbols available near the top of the screen (or by setting preferences in one's profile), users can filter our reviews specific to their conditions or needs.

5 of 5 - Community Map

Community Map
By accessing the Camera icon on the bottom navigation, users have the ability to upload photos about a specific location on the Community Map.

The example shown in the video is a user uploading an observation about a new wheel chair ramp that has been installed in their neighborhood. Other users can view community uploads in a map view by pressing the Local button when searching for a locations (See 3 of 5).

Design Style Guide

A unique challenge when designing Access.Able was developing a style that met as many accessibility standards as possible, while retaining a playful and appealing aesthetic.
Our team referenced Material Design, a UI many Android users are familiar with, in order to standardize the appearance of Access.able's screen layouts. We used complimentary colors such as orange and blue in different hues to provide a strong visual contrast, while retaining an energetic palette. The people illustrations are original art created specifically for Access.Able, designed to match the playful rounded aesthetic of Fredoka One, the logo typeface.

Usability Testing

Tasks and results

To test our initial design, we reached out to 5 different relevant users to determine if they could navigate and utilize the main functionalities of Access.Able.
The participants from our usability test either identified as having a disability, or having a close relationship to someone (i.e, family member, partner, friend) with a disability. The two tasks participants were asked to accomplish were:
1. Find reviews for the Tower of London that is relevant for people with Mobility needs.
2. Upload a photo of a recently installed wheel chair ramp to the Community Map.

The image above is the overall results of the performance of our test participants. All users successfully completed both tasks, and utilized functions such as the Location button over simply trying to search for their destination and Community Map. Generally, most users found the app to be intuitive and easy to navigate, and were very satisfied with their experiences.

Next Steps

Reflections on Access.able

Designing Access.Able was a unique challenge that required my team to accommodate the needs of a user base that is often underserved by mainstream travel platforms.
The results of our initial usability testing were generally positive, but our team recognized the need to test for a wider audience, and for a use case scope that was not possible during our two week sprint. Some considerations our team had for a V2 of Access.Able were:
• Adding comments, reactions and favorites to user content on the Community Map.
• Creating a responsive website
• Specific profiles for business owners and local governments.
• User forums and blogs.

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