Making Design Thinking Accessible to Blind and Visually Impaired People

PI: Prof. Sean Follmer


Design thinking leverages spatial and visual diagramming as a central component for both ideation and collaboration. However, this reliance on visual media makes it challenging to increase access and allow for equity in the design thinking process for people who are blind and visually impaired. This proposal focuses on enabling blind and visually impaired people to be engage in design thinking practice. Specifically we propose to focus on two aspects: 1) understanding current practice of blind designers and participants in design thinking workshops, 2) the creation of new tools to better support their practice - specifically in the context of affinity diagramming. These tools leverage new techniques for interactive tactile display and will investigate techniques for accessible synchronous co-located and remote collaboration with spatial diagrams. Through a participatory design process we will create a functional system to support these goals. Finally, we will evaluate how such tools can increase perceived self-efficacy in design skills and change equity in terms of collaborative behavior in design teams comprised of sighted and blind designers.