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)
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.
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.
Usability Testing (Remote)
Quant & Qual Data Analysis
Python (Data Analysis)
SwiftUI / XCode (Prototyping)
How might technology help people with visual impairments enjoy watching sports more?
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.
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
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
Using haptic feedback as play-by-play descriptions
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
I enjoy ‘watching’ sports, but find the experience always limited, unsatisfying, and disappointing.
Haptic feedback has the potential to describe sports events, and users could understand which player did what with different haptic patterns.
If I had such an app maybe I would become a better sports fan, a bigger sports fan.
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.
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.
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.