This project is a collaboration as part of Inclusive Design, a Rhode Island School of Design studio partnership with Microsoft’s design team. The class is structured around Microsoft’s Inclusive Design guidelines, and is designed to explore the role of technology in facilitating better human interactions and relationships. Inclusive design emphasizes creating designs that are accessible to the full range of human diversity and are usable for as many people as possible, including those with different disabilities, capabilities, needs, and aspirations.
The World Health Organization recently updated their definition of disability, redefining it as something context dependent rather than as an attribute of a person. With this change, anyone may be considered disabled, even if only temporarily. This project seeks to keep this in mind in order to design for a wider range of people with different ranges of abilities.
A lot of the frictions with traveling ultimately came down to organizing and planning your activities. Sites like Hipmunk, TripAdvisor, and Kayak alleviate some of the stresses involved with planning for travel, but they still have limitations. They are only focused on planning out activities prior to the trip, but we see the need for a service that allows people to plan out activities during the trip.
Based on the conversations we had, we found that the most reliable way to get recommendations on where to go was through friends, family, and acquaintances. People trust others who have similar tastes, interests, and backgrounds to provide good recommendations that they will enjoy
In order to gain more insights into the user needs of different types of people during travel, we talked to several different experts. One thing we learned is that mental disabilities such as ADHD, depression, and anxiety make up some of the largest percentage of all categories of disability, yet receive the least attention.
“The most common type of disabilities I see are mental disabilities, such as ADHD, depression, and anxiety. For someone with depression, or even anxiety, the main struggle during travel is not knowing what to expect, fear of the unknown, or suddenly being in a situation that wasn’t expected.“ - Brittany, Office of Disability Support Services, RISD
“There are a lot of technology-based solutions for people with disabilities. To really use technology effectively, you have to look at the fundamental human to human connection that it’s facilitating.” - Alex and Jeannette, Children of Deaf Adults
“With travel, encouraging people to be more present in the moment can go a long way towards improving the experience" - Margaret, Principal Design Strategist at Microsoft
Initially, we were looking into the problems around public transportation. The ideas we came up with in this area generally fell into two different categories: ideas that were designed to increase efficiency, and ideas that were meant to promote social engagement. Most of the problems people had with public transportation were related to the lack of control - when riding the bus or train, people are no longer in control of their own schedules, and must instead
Ultimately, we looked into the underlying motivations for public transportation usage, and pivoted our objective to focus on travel. Keeping in mind our original work, and drawing upon our interviews and research, we focused our design work on the motivations of our personas and the insights we gained from our interviews.