Before starting our product development process it became vital for us to establish who the potential users of our app were. What are their wishes and expectations? Could their needs be met through our app?
Our goal was to get as much information as possible and provide user-friendly solutions in the design and interactions of our product. This extensive research work was done by Tirsa Rosalba Ramos-Pedersen & Elizabeth Matkiewicz.
These studies and interviews helped us better understand the users. Here are the three most important lessons from our research process:
#1: Wheelchair users need to consider many aspects when visiting new locations
Almost every participant stated that they do some research before visiting a new location. Sometimes the people in charge of providing the information might not be aware of what makes a place accessible and can provide inaccurate accessibility information. This can result in frustration when the participant arrives and they can’t get in the place.
“I will phone first. They can arrange it, sometimes they say they can help but that’s too dangerous, I will pick another place.” – Mathieu Leclere, Participant 1
#2: Every person has a unique need
Within the group of “wheelchair users” there are different needs for different types of chairs. There is a big difference between having a manual wheelchair versus an automatic (or electric).
Some participants also brought up that they are treated differently in public depending on the type of chair they are using and if they have another person with them.
People assume they are more capable in a manual chair and if they have a person with them, people assume it is an assistant instead of a friend.
We had many participants who used different types of wheelchairs, automatic, manual, and scooters. Depending on the type of chair and physical capabilities, what each participant needs in terms of accessibility is unique.
#3: Community is very important
Every participant spoke about how community is very important and how much trust they have within their community because they know others have gone through similar experiences and they want to help each other. Being able to participate in society is very important to them, they want to help others in their community if they can.
However, the wheelchair community is small and they will need help from non-wheelchair users in order to standardize accessibility information. If more people rated places, they would be more likely to use accessibility apps, so it doesn’t feel like it’s all on their shoulders (overwhelmed).
Feeling welcomed is very important to them and their experience out in society.