We conducted literature review to see what issues blind individuals faced in voting. The current system which Americans use
to vote is not tailored to be blind accessible. There is no way for a blind individual to read the ballot and fill them in
on their own without the aid of another person or a device
We found that there are only a handful of solutions that are available that try to make voting accessible. The most prominent
one was a voting machine
(see below). This machine allowed for various different inputs by the user using an input panel so as to
allow the user to choose their candidate on a touchscreen. Once the choice is confirmed, the machine will print right on the ballot
that is provided by the staff at the polling place. This allowed them to cast their votes independently, albeit on-site.
We also came across a physical template
that many blind individuals use to make sure they write their signatures inside a specified
(see below). This was a simple plastic rectangle with a smaller rectangle cutout inside.
In order to get feedback on some blind individuals on the voting process, we conducted a contextual interview, where we asked questions
regarding the users' experiences in voting. Luckily, our county had a general election only a week before we began our interviews. We
received a few vital feedback:
- Blind people want to vote independently, and crucially,
- They prefer to take advantage of absentee ballots, and fill out the ballot at the comfort of their own homes.
In addition, we conducted an interview with the Director of Elections in our County to gain more information on the voting environment.
We learned that any solutions we come up with during our design process would require political heavy-lifting in order to see it become
Upon conducting some preliminary interviews, we decided to sort our thoughts by creating personas for our user base. We created two personas
At this stage, we had all the vital information to refine our task and to create a solution. As outlined above, we wanted to "Break
down the barriers blind voters faced in casting their ballots." We focused our efforts on improving the absentee voting experience,
because we found that blind voters like to vote at home
. We then came up with a name for our product: Absentee Voting Assistant,
In brainstorming solutions, we followed the idea of "quantity over quality" and scribbled down all the ideas that came to mind. We had many ideas for potential solutions. Upon analyzing some of the ideas, realized that all the they fit into three main categories:
- A standalone device that reads and selects candidate choice
- An App that reads the ballot and a physical template that allows the user to fill in specific bubbles, as directed
by the App
- Smartphone App that receives input from user
In thinking about realistically implementing the solution, we decided that the first idea is no good because of the cost and energy required
in developing such a tool. The second idea also had its financial limitations-- we believed that the cost of making a template, although
probably less than that of creating a new device, would still incur a cost on either the government issuing these templates, or on the
consumer. The best solution in our eyes, was the smartphone App
, as it can be downloaded free of charge, and can be portable enough
to use at home.
Now that our solution idea was filtered down to one idea, we started sketching the interface for the app. Creating a smartphone interface
for the blind user is difficult, because no formal documentation or guidlines have been created. We used the information we gained through
the interviews and literature research to guide our design decisions. These are all outlined in the final product idea.
After a few iterations of the prototype, we created an interactive prototype of AVA using InVision