Grad Week 2021 | Mr Tumble Makaton App (Summer 2019)
To celebrate my graduation in May 2021 I am sharing highlights of my coursework through the past 4 years in Utah Valley University's interaction design program. These projects are not perfected but ones that I enjoyed working on and I think show my progression and understanding through the years as well as give a window into the work that is done through the program. Think of them as bite-size case studies.
During summer of 2019, I took one of the most interesting and beneficial classes. The class titled "Intercultural communications" taught about how experiences can change depending on the country they are in and the situations of audiences. The class delved into localization of products and encouraged us to think of a wider audience and whether a product may impact a different market.
The class also explored a topic that is beginning to be integrated more in the industry and that is the use of accessibility in design. Making sure your product is available for a specific audience, while including variations of your audience such as blind, deaf, or even colorblindness. For the project in the class, we had to create a basic site or app that incorporated areas of accessibility such as subtitles on a video or alt-text on a site. This project was to get us, as students, to think outside the realm of just visual design and to realize how color, sound, and video need to be changed to make an experience more inclusive.
At this time I had been watching bucket-loads of the UK CBBC show "Something Special" with my toddlers. "Something Special" follows the adventures of a character called "Mr Tumble" and throughout the show a unique form of sign language called "makaton" is used to communicate with children of all disabilities on the show.
With the research and inspiration I had, I created a small app styled after "Something Special". The app was intended to be a small introduction into the learning of the Makaton sign language by showing short clips of Mr. Tumbles teaching a specific word. I designed the app with large buttons so that children could access the videos easily and made sure to include subtitles for deaf children who would use the app. I'm sure there are many other changes I could make to make the app so that it is even more inclusive but for now it was interesting to create with accessibility needs in mind and not just features.
On a continuing note, I am currently reading through "Design Beyond Devices" by Cheryl Platz. Not only is it a great book for learning about designing for a variety of platforms but it's also been very informative about accessibility design and how to make it a part of the different areas of design such as audio and video. Accessibility is an area that I will continue to learn about and get better at.