Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thinking outside of yourself and beyond the active user

The other day a blind man borrowed my elbow to cross the street. As we made our way across Dolores Street, he told me that street-crossing had become particularly precarious in our neighborhood of late. Why? Because of electric vehicles. When they're coasting or running on battery, they're completely silent. So, an entire population that relies on their other senses (hearing in this case) to get by, is seeing the downside of our so-called vehicular advancements.

We often pride ourselves on having a "user-centric" mindset but this conversation on that Sunday highlighted for me the fact that we need to not only consider the active user but the passive user as well.

As designers, we are responsible for any interactions with our products whether it be the person behind the wheel or the one trying to cross the street. In this case, we need to adjust our lens and think of a way to add some noise to EVs so that they can be seen as a positive contribution by all instead of only by the majority while the minority, the blind, add them to another list of things that are life threatening.

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