Assets, Actions, Attitudes: Hearing and Vision Impaired Mobile Technology Personas

Date of Publication: 
2016 February

 Designers and engineers utilize personas and user profiles to give life and substance to user research findings. The pace of development and diffusion of mobile wireless technologies make modeling of consumer profiles ever more critical, especially for people with disabilities, for whom mobile technology can be either empowering or disenfranchising. Fueled by global competition and government policy in the US and elsewhere, inclusive design has become a priority for wireless device manufacturers, software engineers, and service providers. This paper discusses the development and use of personas as a critical tool to help stakeholders (the technology industry, regulators, designers and students) understand the needs and preferences of customers with disabilities, and to raise awareness of the importance of designing for people with disabilities – in short, to visualize inclusion. The paper presents data from the biennial Survey of User Needs, a national survey in the United States conducted by the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Technologies (Wireless RERC). Data are presented on the assets, actions/activities and attitudes of 4 groups of survey respondents: blind, low vision, deaf and hard of hearing. These data inform the development of a user type for each group.  Regular interaction with wireless customers with disabilities has enabled us  to “flesh out” these user types to help its industry partners better understand their customers with disabilities. 


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