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Category: Design

The Accessibility of the Physical Universe

Having an injury certainly opens your eyes to what others have been dealing with for lifetimes. The friend I mentioned in my earlier post about pain medication has (after 2 months) returned to the office for short periods of time. Today, we ended up talking and expressing our mutual shock at just how HEAVY the doors are at Microsoft. It’s not something an able-bodied person might notice on a day to day basis, but for anyone mobility challenged it can be quite an effort. That’s why I didn’t return to work until I was crutch-free seven weeks after my original knee injury last year – I knew that there was no way I could balance my weight on one foot trying not to drop crutches while simultaneously waving my badge and pulling on the door. Untenable. And frustating… realizing that you can be defeated by a simple door does not inspire one with a lot of confidence about their recovery.

As you explore the world in your somewhat impaired state, you become much more attuned to intentional affordances – but even more so, the lack of intentional affordances in many places. Sometimes the shortfall is simple and severe – I tried to attend a show at the Paramount Theatre last year while still on crutches, using VIP tickets gifted by a kind friend. But the VIP section was on the third floor balcony… and the Paramount has NO ELEVATORS. It boggled my mind that one of the largest venues in Seattle has such a significant accessibility problem. The best they could do for me and a friend is to put temporary chairs at the far left of a row in the orchestra section – fairly bad angle, especially when compared to what we could have had. Have handicapped folks been shoved to the side all this time at that venue?

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On Service Design: Pain Medication

Service design is another branch of interaction design, like user experience, that focuses on a holistic view of systems that may or may not involve technology. In simple terms, service design seeks to improve how humans interact with a service or provider.

While many of us have encountered narcotic painkillers like Vicodin or Percocet (hello, spambots) for use after minor injuries or procedures like wisdom tooth removal, it’s a whole new ballgame if you’ve had the misfortune of needing a serious procedure due to illness or injury. Based on my personal experience and the experience of close friends, it feels like there’s a major hole in the service offerings of most medical providers when it comes to ending the use of this sort of medication.

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Demystifying Job Shadows

They’re a rather mysterious concept out of context – after all, I never did a job shadow when I was growing up or even when I was in college. The closest I ever got was visiting my dad’s engineering firm, running around, playing on the computers and being AMAZED at all the choices of beverages he stocked. (How prophetic, since almost every place I’ve ever worked is a member of the free-soda-and-assorted-beverages club.) And I think that’s part of what can make it difficult to find volunteers for job shadows – the uncertainty of “What on earth would I do with…

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Computer Engineer Barbie: How Interaction Design can entice a new generation of women

When I heard the news that I’d been accepted as a lightning round speaker at IxDA’s Interaction ’11 conference, I was delighted and just a bit terrified. I’m very passionate about the subject, but had no idea whether it would resonate in a sea of interesting design theories and case studies. In short, my theory is that the direct social benefit we perform in our careers as user experience professionals is the perfect antidote to antiquated technology curriculums that have scared off women (and some men) in droves. (If you didn’t get a chance to see the talk, embeds are…

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