SMC IxD x Hulu
ACCESSIBILITY RESEARCH & WEB DESIGN
Hulu challenged my Design for Community Change class with the project brief “How might we design Hulu to be more accessible for individuals with disabilities or different challenges when it comes to discovering and/or viewing content?”
User research on how individuals with fine and gross motor impairment use and access Hulu. I designed a website to showcase all the research collected by my class to bring more awareness about the accessibility of technology for individuals with disabilities.
As a user researcher, I conducted in-home user interviews with individuals with disabilities. As the lead designer, I worked on the information architecture and worked on the layout and design of this website.
> 1 in 5 individuals in the U.S. have a disability
> 56.7 million people are disabled
> 19.9 million people have difficulty lifting and grasping
Individuals with Motor impairment in the upper extremities
> Medical conditions include: Stroke, Muscular Dystrophy, and Multiple Sclerosis
> Fine motor Impairment: Difficulty in precision coordination, facial expression and word pronunciation
> Gross Motor Impairment: Difficulty in basic coordination, reaction time and physical strength
understanding your users
Paul is a husband, grandfather, and environmental lawyer. Paul was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) over 20 years ago. MS causes Paul’s nerves to degenerate which affects the muscles in his hands. His mobility, fine motor skills, and overall quality of life is affected by MS. At the moment there is no cure for MS. Paul enjoys traveling, spending time with his grandchildren, and advocating for the environment.
Paul's Pain Points
One finger typing
In advocating for the environment, Paul writes bills to state and local governments. The bill can be as long as 20 pages in length and takes Paul many months to complete when Paul uses only one finger to type out the documents on his computer.
Shaky keyboard and mouse
Paul has fine motor coordination impairment due to the tremors in his hands. The tremors make it difficult for Paul to accurately press on the each key on the keyboard. Also, the computer’s mouse has trouble processing Paul’s mouse clicks due to the sensitivity of the hardware.
Too much too fast
The vast amount of content on Hulu to search and browse through was overwhelming for Paul. Going through a variety of UI elements on the screen all at the same time results in Paul missing UI elements that temporarily appears on the screen, such as the hover bar, which contains access to many important icons and features.
Ellen lives in a nursing facility with her mom and nurses. She was born with congenital myopathy, which is a disorder that primarily affects the muscles, causing muscle weakness. Ellen uses a string cord attached to her electric wheelchair joystick to get around. If she was able to do anything, she would love to travel to Peru to visit her family members.
Ellen's pain points
Ellen loves to watch shows on her TV that she uses to cast videos from her phone on her own time. However, after recovering from a life threatening situation a few months back, her account and “lifehack” had all been disconnected. It took our team over an hour of failed attempts to reconnect her accounts and passwords and rebuild her lifehack before she was able to cast videos again onto her TV.
Ineffective Voice Commands
Although Ellen is able to speak and communicate, voice commands are difficult triggers for her. Ellen speaks with a soft voice due to the tube in her throat. It is sometimes difficult for Ellen to activate the correct triggers for voice commands. She has to repeat multiple times before the software performs the correct action.
Cast icon too high
Due to Ellen’s medical condition, she has no gross motor coordination and she has very limited finger movements. Ellen is not able to reach content at the top of her mobile screen unless another individual pushes the phone lower for her to press it. During the interview, she wanted to cast the show onto the TV for watching but the cast icon was too high for her fingers to reach.
Carl lives in a modest house which he rents out to two tenants. He suffered from a stroke a few years ago that left his left arm partially paralyzed and unable to walk on both legs. He is assisted daily by two caregivers for most of his tasks.
He love to watch horror shows and movies and tends to binge watch shows on his favorite streaming platform.
Carl's pain point
Hulu's Touch sensitivity too sensitive compared to Netflix
Carl had difficulty selecting videos on his ipad due to his tremors. Each tap gesture Carl was enacting would register as a swipe on the Hulu App, which ultimately forced Carl to give up and insist on using Netflix instead. To our surprise, he was able to navigate around Netflix’s app without changing the stability of his hands or his gesture, It showed us that even simple touch sensitivity settings can be enough to turn a user away from a service.
Personalization is key
Being afforded the opportunity to be in each user’s environment allowed us to understand each user’s life hacks and personal preferences to make technology work for them. It’s hard - not impossible - to design for our user’s needs, this includes considering each individuals preferences towards the way they access their content.
Life hacks are strategies or techniques adopted in order to manage one's time and daily activities in a more efficient or pleasant way. This can include a simple cork on a joystick or systems of software and hardware that make accomplishing tasks feasible. For our participants, life hacks are their solutions to a world that was inadvertently built to exclude them.
Spreading the Message
I found that people have different methods to facilitate their life. There’s no one clear product solution for all of the users we interviewed. I learned that listening to our users’ stories allows us to build empathy that gives us a personal understanding of how to design for accessibility. It’s important to hear their stories, be there in person, be in the environment they are in and know the uniqueness of their lives. I hope that this website will bring awareness and spark conversations on what the best methods are in designing inclusive products for your company.