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Lenovo Expands Product Accessibility Research with dscout

See how Lenovo used dscout's platform to enable research with the D/deaf and Hard of Hearing community.

Words by Karen Eisenhauer, Visuals by Jarred Kolar

Lenovo is a global technology company that believes in smarter technology for all, and is dedicated to designing solutions for their users as inclusively as possible. Lenovo also understands that inclusive design is impossible without inclusive research, which welcomes the experiences of participants across the spectrum of disability.

To support Lenovo’s vision, researchers Dana Gierdowski and Peggy He used dscout to explore the technological experiences of the D/deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) community.

“We believe that technology is smarter if it improves human outcomes. Smarter technology is human-centered technology, and our mission is to make smarter technology for all. At Lenovo, it's important to us for everyone to be able to equally access and experience our products and content.”

Dr. Dana Gierdowski
Lenovo

Opportunity

In the wake of previous successful accessibility research, Gierdowski and He were tasked with exploring the lived experience of DHH users and identifying key considerations for designers as they build new hardware and software.

In the past, Lenovo might have conducted this foundational research in person. But in the “new normal”, they needed to adapt. The team needed to engage remotely with participants in their home environments, and do so in a flexible and accommodating way.

The Approach

The team used dscout Diary to run a week-long mobile survey on the technology experiences and needs of the DHH community. They gathered tours of home technology set-ups, inventories of current devices, and spotlights on the good, bad, and ugly of accessible design. The researchers followed up with a series of 1:1 interviews to dive deeper into the themes they uncovered.

dscout’s Diary tool allowed the Lenovo team to increase the inclusivity of their design all along the way:

  • Recruiting: dscout’s recruiting partners were able to find a panel of scouts across the spectrum of hearing loss, including scouts who communicate with American Sign Language.
  • Flexible Fielding: Diary let scouts fill out the survey at their own pace, and gave the Lenovo team time to hire ASL interpreters to transcribe and translate scouts signing their video responses.
  • Response Options: Lenovo used dscout to provide options for open-ended feedback—written responses, spoken video, or signed video. A range of possibilities let scouts who don’t vocalize respond in whatever way felt best to them.
  • Easy Rapport: The manage page made it easy to have open communication with scouts who needed special accommodations, build rapport, and provide support in real-time.

“We worked closely with dscout to recruit across the spectrum of hearing loss. And then we offered choices for our scouts on how to participate and provided accommodations as needed."

Dr. Dana Gierdowski
Lenovo

“One participant from our study who is 61 and has profound hearing loss expressed how appreciative he is of the flexibility and choices we offered by saying that, ‘I was pleasantly surprised that the study organizers offered me choices on accessibility and the cherry on the ice cream was “we have interpreters available to interpret your answers” when I submitted my videos with my answers in American Sign Language.’"

Peggy He
Lenovo

Impact

dscout enabled Lenovo to get new insight into this under-represented community. The videos showing the experiences of hearing loss first-hand proved to be valuable thought starters and empathy generators within the organization, and are contributing towards future accessibility innovations.

The work is also serving as an internal example for accessibility best practices, ultimately contributing towards Lenovo’s goal of a universally inclusive research and design culture.

“[The] guidelines that we came up with… are a good reminder for having multiple means of representation, expression and engagement for our participants. Following this has really encouraged us to be more inclusive from the ground up in the research design phase. And is really, I think fostering for us more inclusive thinking about how to interact with our participants in ways that work best for them, regardless of the ability.”

“When we think about UX research, we are looking for learning opportunities, absolutely. To reach individuals who have different needs and experiences, we need to focus on participant variability and the methods we use to reach them and explore answers to our questions.”

Dr. Dana Gierdowski
Lenovo

Karen is a researcher at dscout. She has a master’s degree in linguistics and loves learning about how people communicate with each other. Her specialty is in gender representation in children’s media, and she’ll talk your ear off about Disney Princesses if given half the chance.

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