My Role
Team Lead
Product Design
Oct - Dec 2022
Project Info
Class Project
Team of 4
Inclusive Design
Tools Used


The Problem

My team worked alongside a gentlemen in his 70s living with severe hearing loss. His invisible condition poses challenges to naturally engage in dialogue, receive necessary accommodations, and participate in life activities without feeling extremely fatigued and overwhelmed. He relies on hearing aid technology to experience the auditory world and feels empowered by digital products, but feels they were not designed for people of his older age.

We wanted to streamline how our participant navigated social interactions, managed his hearing aids, and help others learn how to provide necessary hearing loss accommodations. As team lead, I was responsible for conducting our co-design sessions, synthesizing research, and interface design.

The Solution

Wave is a mobile application that empowers users to automatically adjust hearing aids based on location, easily adjust hearing aid programs + software, and share hearing loss education cards.


  • Those with hearing loss often face additional psychological and emotional tolls due to communication barriers (Correll, 2022).
  • Mobile applications are often paired with hearing aid devices, allowing individuals to tailor their listening experience with features such as personalized hearing programs, Bluetooth connectivity, and check device metrics (Burry, 2022).
  • Seniors face challenges interacting with technology due to mobility issues, cognitive decline, less frame of reference or baseline use of technology, and often complicated and overwhelming design patterns in devices (CareVision, 2017).


Empathize, Define
Project planning
Understanding the space
Defining project goal
Participant Interview
Email Conversation
Project Scoping
Solution Framing
Interactive Prototype
Feedback Session
Project Reflection
OverviewResearchDesignFinal DesignReflection


Research Methods Used

Participant Interview
Email Conversation

01 - Social Interaction

  • Many are unfamiliar with accommodations for those with hearing loss, resulting in awkward social interactions.
  • Differing social settings require frequent manual hearing aid setting adjustments, may opt out.

02 - Technology

  • Reliant and familiar with hearing aids and smartphone to communicate.
  • Is empowering but feels exclusive by design.

03 - Public Perception

  • Archaic "deaf and dumb" perception.
  • Disability feels invisible and not recognizable.
  • People do not try to learn about his disability life experiences.

Generated Themes

Thematic Analysis

Goal: I conducted a semi-structured interview and had email conversations with our participant to learn more about his lived experiences and challenges surrounding severe hearing loss.

Theme Generation: I poured over my email transcripts and interview notes to pull out common patterns in ideas and behaviors our participant expressed.

I created several themes to holistically describe these insights. Example themes are below.

The Bottom Line

Our participant has difficulty seamlessly engaging in social settings and making hearing aid adjustments due to lack of public understanding and non-inclusive, inefficient product design.


Solution Framing

Simple + Intuitive
product must be easily understandable and navigable to ensure low interaction cost for our participant.
Informative + Meaningful
design process must be collaborative to ensure product functionality and information is representative of needs.
Design Challenge
How might we co-design an inclusive solution that streamlines how our participant engages with people and hearing aid technology?


Project Scoping

Target User
"Solve for one, extend to many"
- Microsoft, Inclusive Design
This is a key inclusive design principle that lead the team to focus on creating an inclusive solution entirely with and for our participant and other seniors with severe hearing loss, with recognition of potential for universal benefit.

Co-Design Results

Our participant was very receptive to the idea of creating a mobile application and education cards, giving design recommendations to refine our initial mockups.
Participant Ideas: Geotagging Feature
  • Ability input sub-tags within a primary tag for greater flexibility.
  • Ability to adjust volume within geotags.
  • Option to mute within geotags.
Participant Ideas: Education Cards
  • Keep cards in both digital and physical format, need flexibility dependent on situation.
  • Keep card content easily digestible and engaging, it is difficult to implement general accommodations.
  • Can base copy around Lynne Lim Hearing Centre PDF
 “...people may start to understand, pay attention, and see how noise is difficult.”
Product Features
Based on my research synthesis, I identified six key tasks our participant may want to complete through a design. To accomplish these tasks, I proposed centering on a mobile application and education cards with the included features:
Users may create customized location tags that automatically adjust hearing aid volume and program frequency for more efficient, smooth engagement in daily social interactions.
Education Cards
Users can share a website link to hearing loss education cards help others build their capacity to empathize and accommodate.
Device Management
Allows users to easily mange hearing aid settings and connect to available devices via Bluetooth to engage with the IoT in a simple, unified manner.
Users can connect with hearing aid specialists for firmware + program adjustment remotely for a more equitable, convenient interaction.

Initial Wireframes + Storyboarding

I created a series of lo-fi mockups and storyboards which I presented to our participant during our co-design session to spur discussion, refine, or pivot from.


Visual Language

Final Design

Once the team and I reviewed our co-design insights, I jumped into Figma to create a high-fidelity interactive prototype.
Home Interface
Users can easily adjust hearing aid volume and program as these are the most frequent participant tasks. The education cards are accessible via the homepage as well for efficiency.
Education Cards
Digital and physical education cards help build others capacity to accommodate and empathize, helping bridge the public knowledge gap indicated by our collaborative research in an visually engaging way.
Geotag Interface
To enable more seamless, smooth interactions, users can create geotags with sub-tags to automatically adjust hearing aid settings on specific locations. All geotags are displayed via a map or list view and can be edited at any time.
Device Management
All available devices devices with Bluetooth pairing are consolidated in one interface, remedying our participants difficulty in identifying and pairing his hearing aids to external devices.
Users can connect with their hearing aid specialist to remotely update hearing aid firmware and adjust program frequencies, empowering a more equitable, convenient physician experience for our participant.

Participant Feedback

Key Insights
We conducted a final feedback session with our participant to ensure our product met his needs and goals effectively. Key participant insights are included below.
Successful Product 🎉
Each feature fit his expectations and mental model, greatly appreciating the incorporation of his design ideas and collaborative flexibility we offered throughout the project.
Future Considerations 🤔
  • What happens when geotags overlap? What tag activates?
  • Is it technically feasible to remotely update hearing aid firmware and program frequencies?
Landing Page
Phase Selection
Assessment Introduction
ECD Language Guide
Phase One: See The System
See The System Question One
See The System Question Three
See The System Question Four
See The System Question Two
Assessment Results


This project was my first opportunity to engage in Inclusive + Participatory Design work with a disabled participant. It was a challenge for our participant to visually translate his ideas to digital interface design given the steep learning curve. However, through continuous, open dialogue our participant was very articulate in expressing his design ideas verbally, to which I translated into a digital product.

I ensured to emphasize that we are equal, collaborative partners throughout this project, and that we are here to learn, grow, and create alongside him. By doing so, we created a dynamic that empowered us to equitably create a product together. If I were to continue this project, I would conduct user testing to verify solution utility.

Thanks for stopping by, feel free to explore my other projects!