Accessibility Design for the Deaf & Hard-of-Hearing


Ava’s application is committed to bringing global accessibility to the Deaf & hard-of-hearing. We determined the feature design updates needed for a short, 6-week sprint based through direct user testing. Executed remote-only due to COVID-19.

Out of the box & onboarding

What difficulties do the Deaf face when trying new captions for the first time?

Ava translates spoken word into text for Deaf & hard-of-hearing people to read in real-time. However, text-to-speech capabilities, even advanced algorithms like Ava’s, have a hard time translating the Deaf accent, which can be an emotional blow.

We wanted to create an experience that directed and excited Deaf users to how the app is meant to be used — to translate the the world around them. We used our onboarding as a chance to simulate real world examples, such as translating a video or a hearing friend’s voice.

Group conversations

How can we include and empower Deaf users with a seamless, group conversation experience?

One of the most powerful features of Ava are group conversations. When someone joins a conversation from their device, Ava can differentiate voices, allowing Deaf & hard-of-hearing users to read along and know exactly who said what.

We needed to be able to bring this ability front and center, and ease the experience, getting people added in just a few seconds.

UI Design

What are the most effective improvements for the visual interface
without a complete UI redesign?

We needed to upgrade the visual experience of the application without, as Ava called it, “The Frankenstein Effect.” Meaning, we needed to easily implement visually redesigned screens that would not seem out of place when next to older screens.

We built UI patterns with a repeatable and brand aware design system in mind, mitigating engineering build time and ensuring designs that would scale alongside Ava.

Animation Design

Which microphone and sound bar designs signal how Ava is working for you?

The microphone and sound bar are the core brand assets of Ava — they represent the lifeline of the brand, the extension and ability to communicate through a single symbol.

These symbols communicate back to our users, by visually expressing whether they are on, if the captions have been upgraded to a higher quality, or if the sound is off right now.

We went with a neuomorphism look that felt alive, representing and queuing users of something real and tactile in their 2D screen.