Thank you for attending Fringe Design: Tackling Disability and Death

Thanks to everyone who could attend the Fringe Design conversation at SXSW on Sunday. For those who couldn't come to the session, we had an interesting discussion. 

We started the conversation by running through a deck with a few examples and revealed the design principles we feel embody designing for fringe audiences.


Examples of fringe design

We discussed these examples in detail. You can read more about them on our blogs. 

Fringe design principles

These are the design principles you should adhere to when designing for fringe audiences. 

  1. Focus on people; not on ability
  2. Focus on togetherness, not individuals
  3. Focus on the continuum, not on the moment

Brainstorm: how can SXSW be improved for the hearing impaired?

We started the conversation by brainstorming how SXSW could be experienced by someone who is hearing impaired. We quickly ruled out interpreters and closed captioning, because they wouldn't allow the attendee to capitalize on some of the spontaneous moments of the festival.

We thought Google Glass could be modified to help enhance the experience of someone who is hearing impaired and experiencing SXSW and had virtual tweeters join in the conversation.

We concluded that many wearables could be improved if they were designed for people with disabilities as a primary audience, but marketed to everyone. We certainly believe it would help change the notion of a Google Glasshole.

The graphic recordings that are completed at many of the keynote sessions could also be helpful. Little did we know Chris Cullmann was working on a graphic recording of our session as we made that comment. 

Courtesy of Chris Cullmann

Courtesy of Chris Cullmann

A few conversational highlights

Organizing schools by strengths. There are many types of learning styles and designing a school that caters to abilities could help anyone strengthen the areas they are stronger. We discussed how a student who is deaf might be more visual. Since there are often schools for students with disabilities, people with differences aren't getting an opportunity to learn from others (and vice versa). 

Benefits of designing for fringe audiences. No one will suffer by designing for people with disabilities. You'll never hear someone complain that something was "too easy to read," but you often hear people complain that websites and graphics are too hard to read. 

Niche audiences pay off. One of our attendees noted that companies often develop products that are embraced by consumers in a way they don't expect. She mentioned that the Ford Focus is really popular with the elderly in Europe because of it's simplicity and ease of use. The Ford Focus is one of the top selling cars in the world. 

Deception. The thought of deception was discussed two different ways during our conversation.

  1. It is cool to deceive someone with a disability if the deception ultimately benefits them? The Alzheimer's village isn't deception because, ultimately, someone with Alzheimer's wants to feel as if they are in control of their life and the changes to the village allow them to have that control. 
  2. Is it cool to deceive a client so that you can create products that are more accessible? Especially if it helps them in the end? We determined that aligning the goals of your client with accessibility or suggesting how features could be used for other purposes would be helpful. We discussed how search engines are the world's most influential bling user and SEO is one of the best things that could happen to accessibility in web design.  

Many thanks to all of the attendees for a great discussion. 

We want to thank ‏@krening for live tweeting the conversation and to @kesslerandrew@chadvavra, @christienic, @johnwromano@JacobShiach, @DanielGrushkin@evrmind, @mt_Suzette@wearascough@hcbhealth, @switchGirl@cullmann, @coynepr@greaterthanone, @journalynn, @toyrobots, @Kholler, ‏@carenjla, @gsciallis, @RyannosaurusRex for contributing to the conversation on Twitter. We also want to thank @cullmann for illustrating the conversation while he participated

We used Everest Live to facilitate and recap the discussion. Many thanks to Arik Abel for setting that up. 

An overview of several articles related to the talk can be found here: Articles related to Fringe Design: Tackling Disability and Death.

Cameron Friedlander, @toyrobots, wrote a summary of the conversation on the iMedia Connection blog. Thanks, Cameron!

#FringeDesign for more articles on designing for the Fringe.