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Voting Challenge: Personas for Concepts

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Photo courtesy of Flickr: Accessible Voting (February 2012)
Recently our friends at ITIF hosted a pair of accessible election design workshops to explore early concepts related to our Voting Challenge. At the workshops they used a list of personas, or quick sketches that describe a potential voter, to better understand people's unique needs during an election. These personas are based on preliminary ethnographic interviews with voters and non-voters with disabilities, as well as other research experiences.
The workshop attendees used these personas to imagine the various needs of each voter and the range of barriers that new design concepts would need to address. Check out summaries of the workshops here and here.
How might we use these personas to ground our Voting Challenge concepts in the real-world experiences and needs of voters everywhere?
Tasha is a woman in her 30’s who runs her own business. She has been blind since birth. She employs a “reader” who reads print materials to her. However, she uses a computer independently and prefers that method for accessing information.
George is a retiree who has MS that affects his memory and his mobility. He uses a cane and can’t stand for long periods at a time. Because of his memory problems, he needs to bring notes with him to the polling station about how he is going to vote. He is very concerned about voting privacy — he misses the privacy of the old designs with the curtain.
Angela has quadriplegia from a spinal cord injury. She can move her arms somewhat, but is not able to grip items or point. She uses a typing stick, held on to her hand with a splint, when she wants to hit keys on a computer keyboard. Angela uses a power wheelchair and has a service dog. Due to the height of her chair, she frequently bumps her knees when she tries to pull up to work surfaces. She often feels rushed when voting.
Minjun (pronounced Min-Joon) has vision loss, including being color blind. As a recent immigrant to the U.S., English is Minjun’s second language. Although he can remember who the candidates are from seeing them on TV, he has problems reading their names.
Charlie has autism. He is high-functioning and is able to read well. However, he is uncomfortable in crowds and in unfamiliar situations, and he is sensitive to loud noises. He also tends to persevere when doing some tasks, and it is difficult to get him to move on to the next activity.
Maria is a retiree who has cerebral palsy that affects her mobility and her dexterity. She uses a scooter and has limited fine motor control. As a result, she has difficulty reaching and grasping objects as well as using interfaces that have small buttons or controls.
Michael is a retiree with a significant hearing loss. He uses hearing aids and can lip read if he is within a few feet of the speaker and the lighting is good.
Amy is a single working mother who needs to pick up her 1 year old daughter at the daycare center before going to the poll to vote. The child is quite active and tends to wander off in public places. To make sure that her daughter does not wander off, Amy will have to hold her in her arms while she is voting.
Tyler is a college student who has a condition that has resulted in blindness since he was a child, and more recently, mobility and fine motor issues that resemble arthritis. He can operate controls and buttons if they aren’t too small or too stiff. At home, he uses a computer with speech capability.
As we design our concepts, let's see how we can include elements that speak to these unique personas. Head over to Concepting to get started.
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