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Accessibility for the visually impaired

RESEARCH STUDY

Goal: To improve inclusion and representation for the visually-impaired users, understand their coping strategies, and lay some grounds for future research practices at Grab.

We’ve made great strides in recognising the need for inclusion, diversity, and neurodiversity within our workforce. Despite these ideals, digital products often fall short. 

THE STRATEGY

  • Conduct a qualitative study among working-age visually impaired Grab users to learn more about their mobility, social skills, and tech proficiency.

  • Our goal was to gather data so we could represent these users authentically, as well as arrive at an inclusive and user-centred design approach by understanding their challenges and needs. 

MY INPUT

  • Participated in interviews with 4 iOS users aged 45-65 who use VoiceOver.  

  • Paired with product designers and researchers to gather valuable insights about the usability and accessibility of booking a ride or making a food order using Grab. 

  • Identified touch points in the app where consistency and predictability are crucial for visually impaired users to develop a clear mental model of how the product functions.

 

  • Synthesised research findings using an affinity diagram to thematically sequence feedback on issues such as screen reader compatibility, incorrect labelling, missing interactions, navigation, and overall usability.

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FINDINGS

Based on the research findings and fundamental challenges faced by the visually impaired Grab participants, I crafted an AI-illustrated storyboard to depict ways to overcome some of these critical digital barriers.

TEAM

Head of Research, Product Designers, team Blackbox, and me.

Designing for accessibility:

Seeing Through Their Eyes

(Created using Adobe Firefly Beta)

REFLECTION

Some of the most eye-opening takeaways.

  • Overlapping products/ features: When the product was first rolled out, it served our users well. However, over time, other teams added features on top of ours, creating an incoherent and less-than-ideal experience we weren't aware of. This exercise taught us the importance of keeping a continuity check between sections and features on a screen. 

  • Use null (empty) alt text when text describing the image is already on the page (alt="") or when we don't want the screen reader to announce it.

  • Provide the HTML document with a language attribute so that screen readers will read it with the correct accent and pronunciation. For example: <html lang="en">. 

Armed with these insights, we began reevaluating our app from the standpoint of a voiceover or a screen reader. Implementing these changes could involve a comprehensive overhaul spanning several months, but this initial step was promising nonetheless.

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