Find + Explore is a space and service redesign for Wavefront Centre’s Showroom to help their senior clients discover and learn about hearing devices with ease.

context:

4-month Client Project for a Senior Level Interaction Design Course

Team:

Corrina Tang, Eliza Lim, & Michell Lee

role:

Copywriting, illustrating, interaction design, ethnography, and research

overview

project

A space redesign of Wavefront Centre’s hearing devices showroom to help clients discover and learn about products easily. Using simple color coding, visual guides, and multi-sensory demos, clients of all accessibility levels can navigate the space independently and find what they need.

context

This was a semester-long project for a senior level design course at Simon Fraser University where we were tasked to find an organization to collaborate with and aid in solving a challenge they were facing. Our client, Wavefront Centre for Communication Accessibility (WCCA), was very enthusiastic about our work and are currently working to implement many of our recommendations.

our client
Wavefront Centre: Wavefront Centre for Communication Accessibility (WCCA) is a B.C. based charity that works to reduce hearing-related barriers for Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals with an aim to create a truly accessible society for all.
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our design space
Communication Devices Showroom: The Wavefront Centre Showroom displays a wide variety of devices that help improve clients’ ability to communicate.   The room is a unique space that caters to hearing, Hard of Hearing, Deaf, Deaf Blind, and/or senior clients looking for solutions to their different communication needs, but currently lacks the facilities for anyone to easily and autonomously find the products they need.
Communication Devices showroom: Specifically, the Showroom faces the following challenges: 1. Too Many Devices + Hard to Explore Alone 2. One Staff Member Who Cannot Always Be In the Room 3. It is a Learning Space but is not Set Up as One
our proposal

Our service redesign worked to make the space a multi-sensory and exploratory experience where WCCA’s mostly senior clients could easily find what they need and learn how to use the devices on display. The redesign included multiple components: showroom cards, color-coded signage with braille, instructional stickers, iPad Displays, and a catalogue.

Slideshow of the Components
Showroom Card
Showroom Card

The Showroom card is given to clients from their audiologist to help guide them to the product in the showroom using colour coding. The colour of the product section matches the colour on the card.

Signage
Signage

Colours on the card, table, and signage match to guide clients to the product section they need. Each section has a description of the type of products and where and how they can be used. The specific colours of the sections were all tested so those with vision impairment can differentiate them. Additionally, braille is on the signs and the edges of the table so those who are blind can find products easily.

Take Home Catalogue
Take Home Catalogue

Lastly, there is a catalogue that they can take home that is tabbed with the different types of products. It offers simple product overviews and testimonials to help to learn more about the products at home. Additionally, it works as a way for seniors to pass on the information they learned to their family members.

Showroom Card
Showroom Card

The Showroom card is given to clients from their audiologist to help guide them to the product in the showroom using colour coding. The colour of the product section matches the colour on the card.

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User Storyboard
Receiving Showroom Card - Main Path
Receiving Showroom Card - Main Path

The audiologist recommends Jerry to visit the Showroom to check out the amplifiers. He gives Jerry a Showroom card.

Receiving Catalogue - Alternative Path
Receiving Catalogue - Alternative Path

Jerry doesn’t have time to visit the Showroom today. The audiologist gives him a Communication Devices catalogue to take home.

Take-Away Catalogue - Main Path
Take-Away Catalogue - Main Path

Jerry leaves the showroom, he sees the take-away catalogues and takes one to bring home for further reference.

Receiving Showroom Card - Main Path
Receiving Showroom Card - Main Path

The audiologist recommends Jerry to visit the Showroom to check out the amplifiers. He gives Jerry a Showroom card.

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process

the long and confusing process

As this project was a whole term, we had a lot of time to do research. With the amount we collected, it often became difficult to differentiate the data from the valuable insights.

 

A main part of my role within the team was this critical thinking work. I strategized on how we could move forward with both precision and quality. A large component of this was copywriting so we could better understand and communicate our ideas.

starting with ethnography work
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The first few weeks of this project started with us in the WACC building doing ethnography work. We spent 10+ hours watching everyday practices and did 5 client interviews to get better understanding of their services. From this we created a large affinity map with all our data and tried to break it up into problem areas.

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From our initial ethnography work, I pinpointed two major challenge areas for WACC: clients getting lost on their way to their hearing appointments and the underutilized showroom. To learn more about both services, we did a journey mapping exercise with the staff. We had a multitude of staff come and participate – from those who were hearing, Hard-of-Hearing, Deaf, and Deafblind.


From the feedback we created two journey maps: clients going for hearing testing and visiting the showroom. Though ultimately, we ruled out their hearing testing services as we felt that as it was a medical issue it will be difficult to intervene and there was already concerted effort by WCCA to improving this service.

scoping in on the devices showroom

Feeling like we had a richer area to design in, we went with the devices showroom as the challenges felt more tangible. This is when I noticed that the showroom is less of a sales floor – but more of a learning space for seniors and their family to understand hearing loss better.

Journey Map
Journey Map

This is a journey map that we made from our ethnography work. There is a lot of info, so skip over it if you don't have much time :)

Journey Map
Journey Map

This is a journey map that we made from our ethnography work. There is a lot of info, so skip over it if you don't have much time :)

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creating tangible personas
Family - Caroline
Family - Caroline

Senior - Jerry
Senior - Jerry

Family - Caroline
Family - Caroline

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With our research we created personas! Much of the personas were based off the data we collected – but a lot of their emotionality was pulled directly off my own experience with my grandmother’s hearing loss.


Watching my grandmother lose her hearing and how communication with her changed made me adamant that we needed to ensure that clients feel educated at every step of the service and that they can make their own decisions about the technology.

initial idea ideation

At this point, we were tasked with coming up with some initial ideas on how we might create a better experience for clients of the showroom. We held a design sprint where we came up with over 100+ ideas, then began to narrow down to 3 that could be presented to the client.

Self-Guided Experience
Self-Guided Experience

At the entrance of the Wavefront Showroom, clients can first browse available products on an iPad. This online catalogue is meant to assist the customers in finding what they need when Wavefront staff are not present. There will also be clear signage clarifying which sections of the showroom they are in and walkthrough videos that encourage them to explore and try any devices they please!

Self-Guided Experience: Journey Map
Self-Guided Experience: Journey Map

Hearing Device Workshop: Journey Map
Hearing Device Workshop: Journey Map

Self-Guided Experience
Self-Guided Experience

At the entrance of the Wavefront Showroom, clients can first browse available products on an iPad. This online catalogue is meant to assist the customers in finding what they need when Wavefront staff are not present. There will also be clear signage clarifying which sections of the showroom they are in and walkthrough videos that encourage them to explore and try any devices they please!

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not there yet
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After presenting our ideas, we took some time to reflect on how we were doing the work and how to further improve. We went back through our process and looked at the critical takeaways from each stage of our research and broke down our initial ideas down to key insights and needs.

designing a participatory workshop

To get us back on track, we then held participatory workshops with 10 WCCA’s staff* to better understand how they saw the space and how it could be redesigned. Before creating the workshop, we identified 5 questions we wanted answers for and built exercises around each one.

*originally we wanted to do it with clients, but unfortunately COVID19 prevented that

The 5 questions were:

     1. What value lies within the showroom?
     2. What is one piece of information you want clients to take away from their visit?
     3. What is your ideal learning environment?
     4. What connotations do you associate with hearing loss and hearing devices?
     5. What would you tell someone that is experiencing hearing loss?

We were very intentional with how participants were guided through our exercises as we wanted to create a space where they could share their thoughts. Activities were presented in a specific order to prime them to think about the showroom, learning spaces they feel comfortable in, and how they might give advice to someone losing their hearing. Everything was delivered through an online workbook, as we had to facilitate the workshop over zoom because of COVID19.

Workbook
Workbook

Madlibs, Word Association, Device Explanation, Ideal Learning Space, Letter to a Friend

Getting to Know Each Other
Getting to Know Each Other

To break the ice and welcome participants to the workshop, we created a MadLibs exercise to better understand who they are and why they go to Wavefront Centre. Goal: For participants to begin thinking about their own hearing needs, why they go to Wavefront Centre while also getting to know the group.

Letter to a Friend
Letter to a Friend

To encourage staff members and clients to reflect on their own experiences with hearing loss, we asked clients and staff members to write a letter to a friend who has recently recognized his hearing loss. Goal: To understand the thoughts, feelings and words clients and staff members would want to share when adjusting to new hearing needs.

Workbook
Workbook

Madlibs, Word Association, Device Explanation, Ideal Learning Space, Letter to a Friend

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what we learned!
Something We Missed
Something We Missed

In a desire to scope, we left out a key population for Wavefront Centre - those who are Deaf or Deaf-blind. Though these staff members were happy to be part of the workshop, we caused them frustration because a lot of the activities weren’t fully accessible to them.

Something We Missed
Something We Missed

In a desire to scope, we left out a key population for Wavefront Centre - those who are Deaf or Deaf-blind. Though these staff members were happy to be part of the workshop, we caused them frustration because a lot of the activities weren’t fully accessible to them.

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Main Takeaways
Main Takeaways

Approval of projects always is contingent on if it is accessible to those who are deaf and/or deaf-blind. If we are leaving out that population, we fundamentally aren’t designing for Wavefront Centre. English isn’t everyone's first language, so making sure that instructions are visual rather than written is crucial. Everyone in the organization agrees that the showroom experience needs to be more innovative and interactive, but have different understandings on what that looks like.

Main Takeaways
Main Takeaways

Approval of projects always is contingent on if it is accessible to those who are deaf and/or deaf-blind. If we are leaving out that population, we fundamentally aren’t designing for Wavefront Centre. English isn’t everyone's first language, so making sure that instructions are visual rather than written is crucial. Everyone in the organization agrees that the showroom experience needs to be more innovative and interactive, but have different understandings on what that looks like.

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our final design focus

Though we iterated our design focus throughout the semester, we finally felt we had enough information to narrow down and create a specific lens for this project. To guide our ideation process we came up with the following design focus:

Create a welcoming, interactive space for the Hard of Hearing and Deaf community within the Showroom that encourages explorative and independent learning.

devising two strategies & two concepts
Strategy Statements
Strategy Statements

Strategy Statements
Strategy Statements

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To streamline the final stages of ideation, it was suggested that we should create 2 distinct design strategies and follow both to two final services. This allowed us to incorporate all the adverbs WCCA’s staff had used when describing how they envisioned the space.

From the the strategy statements we created two distinct services:

How it Works! Experience Station
How it Works! Experience Station

How it Works! is an interactive station where clients can explore different hearing devices. By using hands-on demonstrations, detailed device walkthroughs, and personal testimonials, clients can better connect with what it means to use these devices and how to communicate with them.

How it Works! Experience Station - Journey Map
How it Works! Experience Station - Journey Map

Find + Explore: Guide Yourself - Journey Map
Find + Explore: Guide Yourself - Journey Map

How it Works! Experience Station
How it Works! Experience Station

How it Works! is an interactive station where clients can explore different hearing devices. By using hands-on demonstrations, detailed device walkthroughs, and personal testimonials, clients can better connect with what it means to use these devices and how to communicate with them.

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refining and combining

After getting feedback from WCCA, we decided to take some elements of each concept and combine them into one experience. We combined our two original strategy statements into one final statement to guide the final details of our design.

Create an experience that engages multiple senses and helps new Wavefront Centre clients to flow through the room to find and learn about products in an easy and understandable way.

our intervention and its future at WCCA

Find & Explore was our final iteration of the redesign. Though a lot of components were in the final design, each were necessary to ensure that clients of all accessibility levels can access the room. Each element was inspired by current inclusive design solutions and were vetted by staff at WCCA.
 

WCCA was very happy with the work and research we did and were implementing our recommendations at each step of the process. Before COVID19, the firm had plans to bring our team on board to do the implementation of the project but that has since been put on hold.

Reflection

This project was career changing for me and it made me want to pursue further education in design – specifically service design. The process to get to where we landed was tough and not linear (and very difficult to write about), but it showed me my ability to see the critical pain points in a system and how we can create change.


As much as I loved this project, I have some questions on how this project may have been different if someone on our team had a lived experience with hearing loss. It gave me pause about how we co-design and who should be the ones designing – all areas I want to continue to investigate further in my studies.