Cooper Hewitt_First Field Trip

1. Are the digital contents that important?

I was super excited about our first field trip to the museum, but it was a hard one for me. I knew that the point of this class, of bringing in ITP and IDM students is to improve the accessibility experience of digital contents. But as a designer, I couldn’t ignore some basic design challenges that are needed to be resolved. In this post, I would like to focus on the problems I saw other than the admirable elements.

1) OMG, how many times do you want me to get up?

I found the elevator at the main entrance lobby is extremely un-user-friendly. First, there’s no sign pointing to it, even no icon on the elevator door itself. If not asking the doorman, I won’t even had a guess that it was the elevator. Second, the door needed to be pulled to open, that means, as a person in a wheelchair, I couldn’t reach the doorknob until I get close enough. However, when I get close enough, guess what? My wheelchair and my body would block the door from opening. What’s worse, when I get into the elevator, I have to close the steel bars from inside to active it. Dear designer, how many times do you expect me to stand up for ride a single elevator?

I understand that people in wheelchairs could be assisted. Let along if they wanted to be taking care of or not, the space in that elevator is barely enough for the wheelchair itself, no room for another person. Yes, there’s a better elevator at another entrance. But the Museum do have a barrier-free way at the front door, that means it suppose to be OK for people in wheelchairs to enter that way.

2) Ehh…Where is the elevator again?

Besides the wooden elevator doors, I found that the signs are a little bit confusing as well. Outside the new elevators, there were two ‘floor-indicators’ that each telling a different story.

3) Sorry I just cannot see.

In my own experience, audio guide was a standard equipment in museums. It serves not only people with low vision or blind individuals but also everyone who wants to know more about the works. For now, there are no devices for audio guides. According to the team, they made only efficient computer generated audio from API.

And I’m not sure if it matters, but I guess that the thin metal barrier to block the pathway between rooms could be hard for people with low vision to notice.

2. Ok then, let’s talk about the digital ones

1)The magical pen.

I knew the museum put lots of efforts into the pen itself and they loved the idea a lot. But to be honest, as a visitor, I didn’t find it appealing. We are so used to touch screens and QR code right now and we take it for granted, the existence of the huge pen just brought me back to ten years ago. During the field trip, I only used it twice: the first time was at the interactive table, trying to draw some shape. The second time was trying to scan a work.

The user-experience flow of mine was: —->(a) I got the pen from the nice lady, it came with a piece of an introduction of how to log-in into your ‘own website’. I didn’t know how to play with it until other classmates showed me. —->(b) I followed the instruction to get my own site built.BTW, I don’t think people with disabilities or over 40 can handle it as easy as I did. —->(c) I tried to scan a work, put the pen on the code, it beeped.—->(d) I was excited to check my’own site’ immediately, oops, nothings there. —->(e) I tried two more times, still nothing. I lost my interest or trust in this thing. —->(f) I carried it around without using it again until the end. I was afraid to lose it when I sitting down or going to the bathroom because it could be expensive. And it took up one hand of mine, I had to check messages and take pictures with only one hand. That made me uncomfortable.(I got to say, taking up one of my hand DOES NOT change the reality that I have to reply messages and emails, it only makes them harder) (g) After all these, when I hear they said how good it is, I start to hate it. I want to quote what our teacher said: good designs are invisible.

Technically, the tilt angle that the pen touches the code of works could be hard for people with epilepsy to get to.

2)The magical table.
3)The website.

3. Some ideas

1)Volunteering recording for the audio guide.
2)Email vs. personal website
3)’Social’ pen vs. museum Yelp?