Project description

Elevating Voices: Co-Designing Inclusive Access to Digital Information for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People

Most travel information systems in Germany are designed for hearing people. Information communicated via loudspeaker announcements is rarely conveyed in other alternative formats. Other information is also often provided only in written language and does not offer cross-linguistic accessibility.

Together with members of Deaf communities, we have co-designed a service that aims to reflect the heterogeneity of Deaf and Hard of Hearing people by offering different information formats. The service improves the visual communication of current information systems, provides information in sign language and a support of staff through a video relay service. 



A collaboration with the design studio Ergosign GmbH and the research project AVASAG. 

Design and Development of the Avatar: © Charamel GmbH – Sign Language Avatar AVASAG-Projekt

Co-Designing an Inclusive Travel Information System with Deaf  and Hard of Hearing people.
Co-Design Process: Empathise  Define  Ideate Prototype Iterate
A visual language that communicates information clearly regardless of an individual's native language;  in addition, loudspeaker announcements are also communicated in sign language.
A series of application screens
Emergency and information points are made accessible by  offering support in sign language.
Connecting physical and digital realms: An information system in  the train station connects  the digital information with the physical space.
Experience Prototype
Inclusive Travel Information

With sign language as a unifying element of culture and community, Deaf people usually do not identify themselves as disabled but as a linguistic minority. For many, sign language is their native language and thus reading, and writing skills of spoken languages are additionally acquired as foreign languages. The literacy levels of Deaf people vary greatly, and often, reading texts involves increased effort and strain, because: To read text means to read in a foreign language. As most access to (digital) information requires either hearing or reading spoken languages abilities, digital services pose severe barriers for many Deaf and hard of hearing people. 

The experience prototype above is one of the project's design outcomes, describing a service that consists of various components in the physical and digital as well as in the private and public realms. The service ensures correct and real-time travel information at all touch points during a journey. It is designed to be accessible to Deaf and Hard of Hearing people and takes into account the heterogeneity of Deaf communities by providing different methods of obtaining information.