Monday 22 January 2024

Personal Reflection

Note on the Personal Reflection

The aim of a personal reflection is to give the student an opportunity to relate a personal understanding of the course. To highlight not just the described learning outcomes but also draw attention to challenges and areas of difficulty. Think of it as a statement of what you determine to be the key learnings and contribution of the course. It can be critical, highlighting gaps etc. Ultimately it is a personal statement of your own (perhaps new or changed) perspective on the subject, new understandings, difficulties, and insights.

Grading criteria:

The Personal Reflection is authentic, critical, supported by evidence and descriptive, conveying your own personal learning insights.
  • A single page, approximately 500 words.
  • Is it original? Is it your own work? (this is a basic requirement)
  • Are the insights and learning described authentic? Does it honestly communicate your personal learning on taking this class?
  • Is it critical? Critique isn't a bad thing. It challenges your own and others, even the subject itself. Consider prior understandings, misunderstanding, new knowledge, or changes in understanding?
  • Are statements supported with examples? For example, comments or reflections on the homework tasks, the project, themes and subject matter?
  • Core concepts? At the very best the reflection offers a compelling account of the significance of some of the key ideas arising in the course.

Guidelines for Term Paper and Video Presentation

Research Project

Presentation Video + Term Paper (including Reflection)

"Evaluating and enabling the design of a whole product"

The project is focused on carrying out practical field studies of everyday challenges and problems people face in their encounters with technology. These could be digital or physical challenges. Challenges ranging from mobility access in the built environment through to digital access and usability for people with disabilities and diverse needs. Design thinking methods will be applied to the goal of enabling the design of the whole product.

Guideline plan of steps to deliver this linked set of assignments:

  1. Devise your own scenario (or select one from the examples below); experiment and play around with the scenario; figure out how to meet the need by using accessibility features/software.
  2. Decide on one or more research methods to study step 1.
  3. Find literature for the research methods (see step 2).
  4. Gather data, analyse the data, and extract insights (using step 1, 2 & 3).
  5. Discuss and reflect on the usefulness and limitations of the research methods used (using the output of step 4).
  6. Write-up the research and prepare a video presentation of the project and your findings.

This is an opportunity to conduct a deep dive into the first half of the design process, focusing more on field research and ideation, less so on prototyping and implementation.  The project is informed by iterative design systems, for example, applying elements of the GV Sprint Method and the IDEO Design Kit: Travel Pack. These approaches will inform an understanding of how to take part in design-oriented research and fieldwork.

We will address the initial stages of the design thinking process. Discovery, interpretation, and ideation activities place greater emphasis on conducting field research and creating a design brief rather than brainstorming new designs. The design brief as a mid-stage deliverable provides an analysis of AS-IS contexts more so than producing new TO-BE designs or introducing changes. The figure below suggests where a design brief belongs within a design thinking process.

[image adapted from IDEO. (2012). Design thinking for educators.]

Goal: to gain awareness of design affordances; acquire research skills for identifying design problems and needs; apply universal design to the workplace and world at large. Students will connect user-centred design and universal design principles to real world design problems and develop requirements for redesigned spatial/digital systems.
Learning Outcomes: You will become knowledgeable about specific product design research methods. You will learn how to find problems in product/service offerings, gather evidence and create descriptions of areas for improvement and identify shortcomings in extant designs.
Scope: Students will undertake experiential learning by applying mobility aids and sensory simulations to encounter and experiment when using the product or system. 
  • Select from the IDEO research methods or other research methods for product design research. 
  • Develop a short literature review on your selected method(s). 
  • Devise your own protocol to employ your selected methods. 
  • Limit outside field research to UCD's physical/digital campus and services. 
  • Gather data, analyse it, make findings, and draw conclusions.
Note: 'Try it yourself', i.e. complete tasks under different conditions, e.g. using assistive technology or interacting via a simulator (with assistive settings; keyboard-only; mouse-only; voice control; via a digital assistant such as Siri or Alexa; while using empathy tools such as gloves or being blindfolded; using a wheelchair etc.).
Note: Design research is not linear, it will involve cycles of using/applying and refining your method protocol to gather useful data and findings for both the design brief and to establish a critical analytical understanding of your selected method. 


Devise a scenario studying how people attain goals/needs
You as an individual will personally research the experience of attaining defined user needs. You will personally perform accessibility completion of a goal. You will propose and analyse task/activity pathways, using environments accessibility supports as if for a person with an impairment. Any one of the following examples are suitable and you may propose your own scenarios:
  • using available directional information to navigate the campus.
  • assessing the ease of operation of access points to and through campus buildings.
  • detailed evaluation of defined activity interactions such as point of sale, printing, ticketing, etc.
  • finding a resource in the digital library
  • discovering and navigating the digital campus
  • keeping up to date with campus status information
  • keeping up to date with UCD advisory information
  • printing an assignment at home
  • submitting an assignment online
  • digital access to learning materials, lectures, etc.
  • opening a file and commanding a screen reader to narrate the content of the file.
  • writing and sending an email using accessibility commands.
  • searching for and opening and narrating a selected web page.
  • Word - use device/computer accessibility commands to open a word file and narrate the content.
  • PowerPoint - use device/computer accessibility commands to open a PowerPoint file and narrate the content.
  • other application - use device/computer commands to open an application file and narrate the content.
  • Word, PowerPoint, other application - use device/computer accessibility commands to edit a file (e.g., add/modify new content).
  • navigating around a computer file system via accessibility commands.
  • using accessibility commands to open a file and commanding it to be saved in another location.

Video Presentation

Create a short video explaining your project. Upload to your favourite video sharing platform (e.g., Vimeo, YouTube) and share the link URL as indicated in Brightspace.
(focus on design insights). You can be as creative as you like with the video. It could take the form of: narrated slides, a single-take talking head to camera, a complex expressive multi-shot production or some other format you choose.

Consider mentioning the following areas:
  • Problem definition.
  • Indication of evidence gathered.
  • Statements of design needs identified.
  • Relate to the design thinking process, use of an iterative, structured design process. 
Images used, whether self-generated or 3rd party copyright, should have source acknowledgements in addition to explanatory/descriptive captions.

Term Paper

Scope: A scholarly research report focusing the application of the research method(s) you used for the design brief study.

Include a brief literature review, example protocols for how you chose to apply the method(s) You could discuss issues such as about the quality of field data gathered, how useful or easy was it to analyse, arriving at findings intended for design innovations.

Deliverables: Write an 8-page research paper. This page count includes the References section. Graphs, images, tables are not included in the 8 pages and so are indicated by caption and cross-reference text only e.g., <<Table 1 goes here >> or << Figure 1 goes here>>. Copies of the actual tables, figures, images will go into the appendix after the 8 pages. There is no page limit on the appendix.
The references section must contain at least 10 scholarly references in addition to (Battarbee et al., 2014) and (, 2015). Note: Graphs, images, tables must be placed in the appendix after the References section.
  • Battarbee, K., Suri, J. F., and Howard, S. G. (2014). Empathy on the edge: scaling and sustaining a human-centered approach in the evolving practice of design.
  • (2015). The Field Guide to Human-Centered Design. IDEO Canada.
[note] Use Word's 'Caption' function to identify data boxes, tables, figures, photos etc in the appendix.
[note] Data can be included in full in a section in the appendix at the end of the document - not included in the page count.
[note] Lengthy research protocol steps, transcripts, recordings etc,  can be indicated or included more fully in a the appendix at the end of the document - the appendix not included in the page count.

Template: You must use the specified scientific conference template for the paper. Choose between either the LaTeX or Word template, based on the format required for the European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS). Copies are available on (Google Drive link). Papers should be submitted as a ".pdf" file. Note: By using the template, you will automatically and naturally be producing a document that complies with the required format (page layout, fonts and font sizes, line spacing, heading styles, reference style etc.).

Most important! Please ensure direct quotes are presented within quotation marks followed by the appropriate source/identification or citation. Please ensure identifiable images are used with individuals consent with appropriate source/identification or citation and/or are anonymised/obscured if necessary.

Example outline of a typical journal style paper - choose section titles as needed.
The title and abstract should both capture the essence of the study.
Introduction / Literature (positioning)
Give a brief introduction to the literature and positioning for the study. Literature review for method(s) being used. Literature (if any) on the research context (AS-IS).
Apply and Evaluate Research Methods to Context
How you applied the research method(s). Outline of research protocol, approach, site, subjects etc.
Data / Evidence
A summary or concise presentation of data / evidence.
Analysis / Discussion
Analyse the data/findings. Analysis and discussion to establish the significance of what was discovered. Your interpretation of the data / evidence. Propose alternatives (TO-BE). Comment on the efficacy of the research method(s) used.
Summarise the findings concisely, often in a page. This is a overall synthesis distilling your analysis and its relevance to theory and the literature. May include a very short note on weakness of the research.
The bibliography/reference section is crucial to get right as it is the index to prior research and literature that you have cited in the paper.
(all the above sections are included in the page count guidelines/limit)
(the appendices below are not included in the page count guidelines/limit)

Appendix I
1-page Personal Learning Reflection included as an appendix.
Other appendices as needed
Use appendices for figures and tables mentioned by reference in the body of the paper. Us extra appendices to provide additional detail if necessary. Usually data samples, or intermediate representations, for example a sample of the data analysis process, coding frames, stages in the coding and summary or intermediate categories from data.

Grading of the Term Paper
Grading of research papers will consider the following criteria:
  1. The research project (motivation and goals) is clearly explained.
  2. Critical positioning in literature.
  3. Empirical work, data and evidence presented.
  4. Contributions are clear.
  5. Overall quality of the document as a finished product.
And so; questions the examiner will ask when reading the paper will be:

  • Is the research project (motivation and goals) clearly explained?
  • How is it positioned in the literature?
  • Is empirical work, data and evidence presented?
  • Are the findings, conclusions, contributions clear?
  • Overall quality, how does the document look and read?

A brief explanation of letter grade descriptors is provided below.

Modular (letter) grades for reports and written work.

  • The report is suitable for submitting to conference, journal, or executive with little revision.
  • There is a compelling logic to the report that reveals clear insight and understanding of the issues.
  • Analytical techniques used are appropriate and correctly deployed.
  • The analysis is convincing, complete and enables creative insight.
  • The report is written in a clear, lucid, thoughtful and integrated manner-with complete grammatical accuracy and appropriate transitions.
  • The report is complete and covers all important topics.
  • Appropriate significance is attached to the information presented.
  • Research gathered is summarised in some way, research and analytical methods described and discussed, evidence linked to argument and conclusions.
  • The report may be suitable for submitting to conference, journal, or executive if sections are revised and improved.
  • There is a clear logic to the report that reveals insight.
  • Analytical techniques used are appropriate and correctly deployed.
  • The analysis is convincing, complete and enables clear insight.
  • The report is written in a clear, lucid, and thoughtful manner-with a high degree of grammatical accuracy.
  • The report is complete and covers all important topics.
  • Appropriate significance is attached to the information presented.
  • The report may be suitable as a discussion draft for further development or refinement.
  • There is a clear logic to the report.
  • Analytical techniques are deployed appropriately.
  • The analysis is clear and the authors draw clear, but not comprehensive conclusions for their analyses.
  • The report is written in a clear, lucid and thoughtful manner, with a good degree of grammatical accuracy.
  • The report is substantially complete, but an important aspect of the topic is not addressed.
  • The report may have used or presented some information in a way that was inappropriate. 
  • The report may be suitable as a preliminary draft but needs substantial revision in a number of areas to develop further.
  • The basic structure of the report is well organised but may need rebalancing.
  • The content of the report may be partial, incomplete or unfinished with important aspects not addressed.
  • The report used information that was substantially irrelevant, inappropriate or inappropriately deployed.
  • The report’s analysis is incomplete and authors fail to draw relevant conclusions.
  • The report may contain many errors in expression, grammar, spelling.
  • The report may appear to be preliminary, speculative, and/or substantially incomplete.
  • Whatever information provided is used inappropriately.
  • The structure of the report may be inappropriate or need substantial reorganisation and/or rebalancing.
  • There may be little analysis, evidence may not be founded, the findings may be inconclusive.
  • The report appears to frequently use information that is substantially irrelevant, inappropriate or inappropriately deployed.
  • The report may be poorly written, organised and presented.
  • Frequent errors of grammatical expression.

Friday 12 January 2024

Photography/Video Consent - Recording in progress

Photography/Video Consent

We may seek your consent for the use of photographs and/or video recordings, including images of you, for the purpose of research illustration, creating teaching resources and promoting the course. This consent applies to images, videos, and audio recording.

By taking part you give permission to be recorded, for the recording to be edited, and for it to be  shared and published. Recordings for publication (e.g. via print, podcast and/or video streaming) are licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 (Creative Commons license Attribution, Non Commercial, Share Alike). The license can be viewed at

These recordings can be shared in print and digital media formats, for print publications, websites, e-marketing of the university, posters, banners, advertising the university in films, and for social media campaigns. Any content on websites will be accessible globally. This means that in some countries outside Europe, where websites might be accessed, the level of protection of your privacy rights might be less than in the EEA.

Friday 13 October 2023

Product (inc. Service) Design Resources

The Service Design Tools site is a wonderfully detailed collection of resources suited to evaluating user contexts, for helping you adopt a `design attitude'. The resource is supported by an on-going project aimed at bridging education, academic research and professional practices.

The design methods finder offers another possible source of inspiration for identifying research (and design) methods to apply to your own design research project.

The Nielsen Norman Group (Jakob Nielsen, Donald A. Norman, Bruce "Tog" Tognazzini) has been behind a sustained drive to professionalise high tech design by defining a new kind of occupation; Interaction Design.

This is Jakob Nielsen's site for sharing thoughts on the principles of interaction design, events and ID community material.

Bruce Tognazzini's site and his take on design principles.

Thursday 16 February 2023

Exercise: Create and Test a protocol for one chosen research method

Experiment with a research method

One of the goals for design thinking is gather feedback on how a design performs and/or the gap or need for action. We employ research methods to gather feedback, gather empirical data, gather evidence, to learn about needs, goals and how a design performs.

A small scale study conducted in order to develop a design brief. 

The approach taken with this class is that each student chooses one or more research methods to apply to their own empirical investigation (the research project). Rather than presenting standard versions of the very many research methods available, each student is expected to identify and independently search for method-relevant research articles to inform their understanding, inspire their own devised research method structure, and apply their chosen method to their own project. In summary: choose a method; devise a protocol (informed by investigating the literature on the method); apply the method to investigate user interaction in the world; gather data and insights to inform future design interventions to address needs and issues.


You can select from the lists offered below (The Methods Finder, The IDEO Methods Cards, The NN/g Nielsen Norman Group UX Research Methods library, or a research methods book from the UCD library).

Choose one research method to trial and devise a scenario to apply the research method and comment on how informative/useful it is. 
  1. Protocol: Devise some steps and instructions to apply the research method to the scenario.
  2. Evidence: Gather some data - test the protocol by applying your instructions to an example scenario.
  3. Results: 1 (one) page write-up to present your findings and analysis.
Seek inspiration for your chosen research method using:
A research method to be the holistic approach taken to gather data, an overall approach taken to gather data. Interviews, observation studies, etc. are research methods. You can of course employ more than one research method to gather data. 

The protocol/recipe for a method sets out the steps you've followed, the method description, a recipe as such. The protocol describes the chosen research method sufficient that someone else could follow the same steps and end up generating much the same data and analysing it in much the same way. 

For example an observation study will involve steps like gathering evidence (photographic, text, or audio or something else) perhaps writing contemporaneous field notes; saving, transcribing and preparing the data in some way (anonymising it, or removing duplicates, etc.); analysis (selecting important elements, counting things, etc.).


Identify a scenario - using some tech or object to attain a goal. 
Possible examples might be:
  • Parcel drop services + returning a parcel
  • Anything with a touchscreen + e.g. pay for transaction
  • UCD directional maps online and on-campus + e.g. go from bus stop to the sports centre
  • Dublin Bus website + arrival time of the next 46A
  • ATM machine + make a deposit
  • Train/LUAs ticketing + pick up a pre-paid ticket
  • Supermarket Self-service checkout machines + apply discount coupon
  • Copier machines at the Copi-Print system + print a colour A3 poster
  • UCard Top-up + find balance
  • Printer + print an email
  • Kindle or other E-reader + purchase a book
  • Brightspace (from student’s perspective) + submit an assignment
  • Alarm System + review the alarm log
  • Airport Self-service Checkin + checkin online and checkin bag at tag and drop
  • Online Shopping website + search for a specific size shoe
  • UCD Library catalogue + find a book by <name>
  • Stairs + fire drill
  • Doorways + enter/leave the building using a wheelchair
  • Queuing in a café + order and payment activities
  • Anywhere with a queue + maintaining Covid social distance


Discussion of findings. 
Comment on usefulness of method. 
Comment on the form of the data. 
Comment on ways to analyse the data. 
Comment on how to interpret the data. 
Suggest ways of scaling or improving the protocol.
Note method-relevant research articles for the protocol.

Ireland's Universal Design Grand Challenge...

What is the Universal Design Grand Challenge?

The Universal Design Grand Challenge (UDGC) is a student competition that promotes and awards excellence in student projects that feature solutions that work for everyone. The UDGC invites third level students in their final two years of study, post grads and recent graduates to enter their best student project.

Each year, nine finalists from third-level institutions around Ireland present their designs to a panel of industry experts as part of the National Final. Winners are then announced in 3 categories:
  • Built Environment,
  • Technology,
  • Products and Services.
In addition, there will also be a Peoples' Choice Winner and an Enterprise Ireland* “Universal Design Commercialisation Award”.

All finalists benefited from expert pitch training as part of the competition process. The winner of each category received a cash prize and the coveted Universal Design Grand Challenge trophy for that category.

Thursday 9 February 2023

The NovaUCD Student Enterprise Competition 2023

The NovaUCD Student Enterprise Competition is now in its 9th year and provides a framework to support UCD undergraduate and postgraduate students who want to work together to develop and grow start-up companies.  
Taking place from May 29th – June 23rd @ NovaUCD.  
The aim of this competition is to assist students in refining their start-up ideas through a series of structured workshops, including taught content from industry experts, interactive workshops, regular pitching sessions and mentoring. Accessing the competition is via a short application form and 5 min recorded video pitch on or before March 24th. A final pitching event takes place on June 23rd and the competition winner will be selected. Prizes are as follows:
1st prize: €5000
2nd: €3000
3rd: €2000
More info is available on our website:

Writing a precis

The commentary or précis of a reading/article conveys what you learnt and how you might employ the knowledge. In addition you can employ a critical or analytical interpretation, i.e. what is the intention of the authors, who is the audience, how valid are the claims?

Patterns for a basic précis:
  • Sentence 1:Name of author, genre, and title of work, date in parenthesis; a rhetorically accurate verb (such as "claims," "argues," "asserts," "suggests"); and a THAT clause containing the major assertion or thesis statement in the work. 
  • Sentence 2: An explanation of HOW the author develops and supports the thesis, usually in chronological order. 
  • Sentence 3: A statement of the author's apparent purpose, followed by an "in order to" phrase. 
  • Sentence 4: A significant quote from the paper used in a sentence.

Focus on the article being reviewed, not so much on other readings, books, articles etc.

Please do identify key quotes from the article. These a short statements or at most a sentence or two that distill some essential aspect of the article. A key quote is used: to point to the authors' evidence or claims; to make a justification for your own arguments; to act as a foundation for your own ideas. However, there must be clear delineation between the authors' content and your use of it therefore.

  • For quotes: use quotation marks followed by cite.
  • For paraphrasing: follow with cite.
  • For extracts and transformations like lists and tables: explain source followed by cite.
  • When reviewing, do not quote the author's quotes of other authors. Instead, quote an original passage written by the author of the article you are reviewing.

Please use double quotation marks and page number to identify "the quoted text" p. 23. You could apply one of the standard citation methods if you like e.g. Harvard style:

  • (Surname et al., Publication Year, p.#)
  • (Surname et al., Publication Year, pp.#-range)
Something like "some text" (AuthorSurname et al, 2033, p.7), or similar according to the citation standard required for the document.

Wednesday 8 February 2023

The 'citing an article in your writing' exercise

How to cite Battarbee et al. (2014)

(refer to

1. (into your Word document) Paste a copy of the short precis you wrote for "Empathy on the Edge: Scaling and sustaining a human-centered approach in the evolving practice of design" By Katja Battarbee, Jane Fulton Suri, and Suzanne Gibbs Howard,"

2. (into your Word document) Enter the following minimal citation details
authors = Battarbee, Katja and Suri, Jane Fulton and Howard, Suzanne Gibbs
title = Empathy on the edge: scaling and sustaining a human-centered approach in the evolving practice of design
publisher = IDEO
year = 2014
3. (into your Word document) insert the citation beside your writing (refer to the associated exercise

The outcome of this exercise is to have written a short paragraph asserting a claim or explaining something and to have correctly cited Battarbee et al. (2014) beside that sentence or paragraph.

Exercise: Writing for research

Using technology to manage a bibliography, referencing and in-text citations.
This exercise looks at MS Word style sheets and References... while the example illustrations are from MS Word for MacOS the same function is available for Windows and for Microsoft 365 web versions albeit with minor differences in screen layouts and functionality.

1. Save a copy of the ECIS template to your own drive (ECIS-inspired-template.doc in Google Drive link).
2. Rename your file using the following pattern "Surname_MyResearchProject_2019.doc".
For example my own paper is saved as "HigginsEtAl_WorkingInVirtualLight_2019.doc". I have used the author convention "SurnameEtAl" as there are three or more authors.
3. From the MS Ribbon "Home" open the Styles Panel. The "Current style" field show the current text style wherever the cursor is in your Word file. Alternately navigate to top menu "Format>Style" for similar.
The current style at cursor location

4. Select section 1 "First level heading" and rename it "Introduction"

5. Paste and match formatting using following unformatted text as new paragraphs for section 1
Critical management studies appreciate that products and services, produced with technologies, by organisations, and the involvement of users, rely upon "actors having formal and symbolic resources for the exercise of... systematic forms of control over organisational participants, and indirectly over other groups and non-human objects"\citep{AlvDee2000aa}. The techniques and skill of management for producing digital goods and services (through software, hardware and systems) at its best aims to resolve this through the delicate, democratic balancing of power, control of resources, shaping of work culture, and leadership \citep{Kid1981aa}. The following brief introduction to the literature positions this study within the broad field of management information systems and seeks to inform further creative, design, and development initiatives.This study looks at...

6. Confirm that the paragraph current style is "Basic text"

7. Select the following text and change its style to "Subtle Emphasis". You many need to filter the style list selection at the bottom of the styles window.
“actors having formal and symbolic resources for the exercise of... systematic forms of control over organisational participants, and indirectly over other groups and non-human objects”
8. With the MS Ribbon "References" active...
Select the LaTeX citation command \citep{AlvDee2000aa} and replace it with the MS Word equivalent citation, i.e. from the References Ribbon select "Insert Citation". You may need to create a new entry in the Word file's Citations collection
Create a new citation source record

Enter a new source record as follows (n.b. add ", p. 7" to be thorough)
MS Word's new citation source editor

9. Similarly replace the LaTex/Bibtex command for Kidder "\citep{Kid1981aa}" with
Adding Tracy Kidder's Soul of a New Machine to the citation list in your MS Word document
10. Now regenerate the bibliography at the end of the draft paper by navigating to the "References" section, and selecting "Bibliography" to insert a new bibliography. You'll end up deleting the previous copy. You'll also need to reapply the style "Reference" to this text
n.b. the bibliography style-type (Harvard - Anglia) and the insert "Bibliography" command
Note that some data entries in your reference database will not be displayed in the bibliography/references generated by Word. This is entirely normal as each reference style presents a selective subset of the data entered. It is what makes each referencing (e.g. APA, Harvard, Chicago, Numbered etc) style unique and distinctive.

Thursday 2 February 2023

Behind the Scenes (another video about IDEO0

The Avalanche case

From Bill Buxton's "Sketching User Experiences" (Buxton, 2007).
This case sets up the issues for high-tech design, design that works 'in the wild', that works for real people in real situations and facilitates achieving their human goals.

Bill Buxton sets the scene with the avalanche responder case. It is an incident experienced by his good friend Saul Greenberg, Saul's wife, and three friends when skiing in high mountainous terrain in Canmore and Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada.

The group was traversing a valley slope when a lethal avalanche fell across their path. The three skiers in the middle of the group were caught in the slide. The lead (Saul's wife) and the last skier could only watch the disaster unfold as three of the following skiers were engulfed by the avalanche. One was simply knocked down, one was buried up to her shoulders, and the last, Saul, was missing.

Avalanche path and path of ski group collide
"Steve, who was higher, checked up on Shane (who was okay), then immediately went to his wife. He freed her arms, and made sure her head was above the snow." 
"Judy went directly to the spot where she had last seen Saul... In order to pinpoint Saul's location, Judy used her avalanche transceiver. ... Using this, she walked a particular pattern on the snow, employing the loudness of a ping (determined by the strength of a signal from Saul's transceiver) to guide her closer and closer to a spot above where he was buried." 
"Judy started digging. Steve arrived and asked if she had verified the spot with her probe, she hadn’t. Judy was confident that she had the right spot, but by this time she had had to dig so deep that her confidence was wavering…"
Saul had tried to ski his way out of it but got caught in the hollow (avalanches can travel at up to 200km/hr whereas 40km/hr is really fast for a skier).
Saul got caught in the trough, a ‘feature trap’, that also meant he was buried deep! But he had cupped his hand over his mouth and nose, preserving a small air space so he could breathe.
He waited, buried under the weight of the snow, and tried to relax. He had to trust in his partners, their training, his and their gear.
None of the participants had ever been in this situation before. Time elapsed from avalanche impact to rescue was about 10 minutes. Under the conditions, after 20 minutes he would have been dead.
(Buxton, 2007) 
What is normal procedure when traversing avalanche prone terrain? The equipment carried consists of transceivers, probes, and collapsible shovels. But more than just the technology; it also requires knowledge, shared practices, skills, and analysis of a concrete situation (among others).

When skiing in avalanche prone conditions, you work one of a number of simple systems depending on the severity of the risk. The normal procedure when traversing is to spread out and post lookouts at either end, and traverse one-by-one. If an avalanche occurs:

  1. Retain one lookout (you may be hit by another avalanche). 
  2. Triage; rescue the most able first (and they may be able to assist later). 
  3. Go to the approximate location of buried victims, judge if carried onwards, then guide using transceiver. 
  4. Use an avalanche probe to locate the body. 
  5. When the victim is felt you start to dig and dig. 
Question: After the 'who'; what saved Saul?

Additional material:
Instructional videos by Canadian Forest Rescue SEE SAFETY (
Harry Hamlin from MSRGear talking about "Avalanche Rescue: How to Use Your Beacon, Probe & Shovel"
Also see BCA backcountry access playlist.
Similar case: 6 skiers survive backcountry avalanche near Whistler: Report by CBC (link).
Design related sources: 
Buxton, B. (2007) Sketching User Experiences: Getting the Design Right and the Right Design, San Francisco, Morgan Kaufmann. (Video examples for the book can be found at the publisher's companion site)
Bill Buxton's homepage (

Monday 30 January 2023

Impact of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

It is fair to say that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), introduced in 1990, helped to set the bar and expectations for rights based accessibility to public services and buildings. It had impacts both within the United States but also internationally and went on to influence if not establish threshold accessibility requirements for digital services - websites, software and other technologies.

Julia Métraux's article reflects on how the changes were depicted by the media. on how they might have been better handled and the desirability of more having empathetic discourse surrounding the basic need for more accommodating changes in the world.

“Media Portrayals of the Americans with Disabilities Act” by Julia Métraux.