Innovators Developing Accessible Tools for Astronomy

IDATA

UCD Experiences 

June 2017-Present

Related Links:

IDATA

Inclusive.Design

IDATA  (Innovators Developing Accessible Tools for Astronomy) is a three-year Design and Development project funded by a $2.5 million National Science Foundation grant. IDATA is a collaboration between Associated Universities Inc., University of Chicago Yerkes Observatory, TERC, University of Nevada at Las Vegas and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This project engages high school students and their teachers, professional astronomers, software engineers, and design experts in the User-Centered Design process of data analysis software for astronomy.

As the User-Centered Design Expert, I am co-leading UCD Experiences with Professor Helen Armstrong. We created Co-Design Activities that apply UCD in the redesign of astronomy software permitting accessibility for Blind and Visually Impaired (BVI) Students. I am also responsible for prototyping and testing the redesign of the astronomy software. This is an on-going project, the activities and updates are available at Inclusive.Design.

MISSION

Design and create an astronomy app that is easy to learn, clear to understand and navigatable in a non-visual way. 

 

THE USER

The user and co-designers are high school students and teachers of Astronomy. The user may have a visual impairment. 

THE IDATA UCD PROCESS

Step 1 | RESEARCH

• Professor Helen Armstrong and I created 6 UCD Co-Design Activities that astronomy teachers will do with students (both sighted and BVI).

• These activities will generate information and enable participants to be co-designers.

• Anticipated run of activities will run from November 2017-February 2018 in high schools across the US and in Chile.

Step 2 | PROTOTYPE, TEST & REFINE

• I am responsible for creating accessible and testable prototypes of Afterglow software.

• Students will test prototypes and iterate.

Step 3| DEVELOP, TEST & REFINE

• Developer programs the resulting prototypes.

• Share the interface with students for feedback.

• Developer refines the interface.

UCD CO-DESIGN ACTIVITIES 

Activity 1 | Investigative & Generative | November 6, 2017

INTERVIEW, OBSERVE, EMPATHIZE

A generative introductory activity that models User-Centered Design methods through hands-on engagement with a design problem.

Introduction to UCD Podcast : explains UCD and student’s role in the IDATA UCD process.

• Runs students through a short cycle of UCD in a single activity.

• Deliverable: Elevator Pitches

 

Activity 2 | Investigative | November 27, 2017

PERSONAS & SCENARIOS

An investigative activity that seeks to put the use of software in context.

• Provides the IDATA UCD Team with information about who the users are and the context in which they use the astronomy software.

• Teaches students that they hold valuable information as a user. 

• Deliverable: Persona & Scenario forms

 

Activity 3 | Generative | December 4, 2017

WHAT IF?

A generative activity derivative of an improv exercise that uses prompts to fuel a growing chain of ideas in participants about how software can work if we remove all limations.

• Podcast forthcoming.

• Forces students to “think way outside the box.” 

• Deliverable: Documented “What ifs?”

 

Activity 4 | Investigative | December 18, 2017

USER EXPERIENCE AUDIT

An investigative homework assignment that asks participants to be aware of any technology they use throughout their day that gives them “moments of delight” and prompts students to explain why.

• Gives the Designer insight into the technology that these students use and what they consider important in technology.

• Deliverable: Technology log

 

Activity 5 | Investigative & Generative | January 8, 2018

CARD SORTING

An activity that gives students cards (made accessible with braille and high contrast lettering) with terms that are used in the software’s navigation. Students are to group and organize these terms in a way they feel makes the most sense to them.

 Gives the designer insight into what the software’s hierarchy should be.

• Introduces students to the organization of information.

• Deliverable: Photos of final cards organization.

 

Activity 6 | Investigative & Generative | January 22, 2018

TASK FLOW WISHLIST

An activity that gives students a task flow to walk through in the software and asks them to produce a “wish list” of what they thought would make the process a better one for them.

 Gives the designer possible pain points to address.

• Empowers students with the ability to think and talk critically about their personal user experiences.

• Deliverable: Wishlist synthesized by the teachers.

UCD ACTIVITIES TESTING AT UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO YERKES OBSERVATORY

Alexandra Grossi and Helen Armstrong test out UCD Activities with sighted and BVI students and teachers in July 2017, Williams Bay, WI.

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