People are in the football stadium and look excited with an application screen.

Feeling Sports

Designing Non-visual Watching Sports Experiences

Role: Principal UX Researcher / Designer

Project Type: Master's Thesis

Timeline: Sep 2020 - May 2021

Advisor: Amy Hurst (NYU Ability Project)

Project
Overview

Context

This is my master's thesis at New York University, Tandon School of Engineering. The entire project was completed during the COVID-19 pandemic with remote instructions.

Problem

Sports enhance cultural and social life by bringing individuals and communities together, but sports viewing can rely on visual information and is not fully accessible to people with vision impairments.

Methods

  • Literature Review

  • Competitive Analysis

  • Interview (Remote)

  • Prototyping 

  • Usability Testing (Remote)

  • Quant & Qual Data Analysis

Tools

  • Qualtrics

  • Adobe Illustrator 

  • Tableau

  • Figma 

  • Python (Data Analysis)

  • SwiftUI / XCode (Prototyping)

  • Keynote (Presentation/Report)

 
Quote

How might technology help people with visual impairments enjoy watching sports more? 

Process

1. Secondary Research​

Understood what has been done and not in the area through literature review and competitive analysis.

2. User Interview

Got in-depth insights from users (blind and low vision communities) about their experiences, challenges, and needs.

3. Ideation & Prototyping​

Prototyped an experimental iOS system for usability testing to evaluate the usage of haptic feedback as play-by-play descriptions.

4. Usability Testing

Evaluated the system with target users and got feedback.

 

Goals

Foundational Research

  • Understand participants’ experiences and attitudes toward watching sports

  • Report on their stories about accessibility challenges and suggestions for future accessible technologies that could increase the accessibility of enjoying sports

Evaluative Research

  • Validate if users could enjoy watching sports with a prototype application 

  • Evaluate the usability and effectiveness of haptic feedback as play-by-play descriptions for sports events

 

Prototyping

Using haptic feedback as play-by-play descriptions

A person is holding one iPhone with each hand and feeling haptic feedabck.

I developed an iOS application utilizing Core Haptics to evaluate if haptic feedback can be used as play-by-play descriptions with target users. ​

The app is fully accessible to VoiceOver (an iOS screen reader), so users can test remotely without asking for help.

 
 

User Interface

Personas

Sara has long and black wavy hair and is wearing red with orange dots T-shirt.

Sara

Avid Sports Fan/Low vision

Sara is an avid sports fan and enjoys watching any kinds of sports. She has low vision and currently can follow what’s happening on a smartphone screen. She is afraid of not being able to enjoy watching sports when she becomes totally blind due to the lack of play-by-play descriptions on broadcast.

Based on the interview results, I designed three personas who can get most benefits from the system.

Mohamed has black short hair and short beard.

Mohamed

Local fan/Blind

Mohamed is totally blind and enjoys listening to sports radios. He is especially a big fan of his local baseball team. He also enjoys watching with friends and family on TV but he gets often frustrated when he cannot follow what’s happening in real-time because TV announcers don't describe details. He is disappointed to share exciting moments together with other people.

Sara ties her hair and is wearing gold earrings.

Sara

Casual fan/Blind

Lina has been totally blind since birth and has a basic understanding of popular sports. She watches sports only with friends and family and really enjoys socializing with others during watch parties. She is eager to have a way to understand the player's actions and ball movement, so she can join those parties more and interact with other people.

 

Key Insights

Interview 

People with visual impairments enjoy and love watching sports, but they get frustrated and disappointed when they cannot follow and understand what’s happening on-screen in real-time.

Radio is more descriptive and enjoyable for them, but they also enjoy watching with family and friends. Thus, they are eager to have an accessible way to enjoy watching sports in real-time without giving up social interaction with other people.

Quote

I enjoy ‘watching’ sports, but find the experience always limited, unsatisfying, and disappointing.

Usability Testing

​Haptic feedback has the potential to describe sports events, and users could understand which player did what with different haptic patterns.

Quote

If I had such an app maybe I would become a better sports fan, a bigger sports fan.

 

Research Impacts

Social / Market Impact​

  • People with visual impairments enjoy watching sports, but they feel frustrated and disappointed due to the lack of play-by-play descriptions.

  • It is expected that more and more people will have visual impairments and this research shows that the sports industry will lose their fans and audience unless they take this seriously.

  • This type of technology will benefit not only people with visual disabilities but also people who don’t have access to screens.

Global Impact​

  • Using haptic feedback on smartphones for sports events is a new initiative. There is lots of room for improvement and exploration.

  • It paved the way for future research since foundational research got accepted by ASSETS 2021.

 

My Learnings

  • A good sampling strategy is very important for the success of a qualitative research project.

  • Participants have different remote preferences.

  • I should have recorded all the interviews! I won’t know what information and which quote I need at the end of the research.