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Inclusive Design Challange 

Semifinalist Winner

One of the most powerful aspects of driving a car is the feeling of independence and control of going anywhere at any time, listening to whatever you like, and having a space that is your own. With autonomous cars, there is the potential for a wider set of people to experience the joys of driving without actually driving.

To approach this challenge, we will build off the well-established area of accessible interface design for smartphones. 

We are currently working on the design system for control and communication using the accessible features of the mobile phone and we are developing the first versions of the design.

My Role

UX Designer



User Research

User Testing & Interviews

Collaborative Designing






February - December 2021

The Challenge

Autonomous vehicles are the future, where more and more methods of transportation including our vehicles are autonomous. With this powerful tool of driving, we want to expand these experiences to more people by creating an interface that takes into consideration people living with disabilities

Many don't realize that a design is not accessible to all due to a lack of exposure and thus knowledge, therefore, through our design, we not only want to create an improved accessible carshare app experience for people living with disabilities, but also generate more awareness into the importance of creating products for the differences in people. 

Our Objectives

✅ Understand the painpoints of people living with disabilities during car rides 

✅ Understand the current accessible interface and autonomous vehicle tools 

✅ Identify key opportunity areas and moments that matter to improve the car ride experience

Wireframing & Testing

Key Insights and Impacts to our designs

As I created initial wireframes based on the journey mapping and user scenarios that I've created, we regularly testing out ideas with the community to receive their feedback and input to improve our low-fidelity wireframes.

Research & Synthesis

Community meetings

Every month we had a community meeting where we talked to our users and asked for feedback

Secondary research

We gathered information on what was already out there for accessibility features on major phone operating systems such as IOS and Android

Journey mapping

I created journey maps of what accessibility users are currently experiencing in different contexts and with different disabilities based on research to get a holistic understanding of what users would want to experience. This also helped the team understand at what points in the travel can this interface intervene and significantly improve an accessible autonomous car experience. 

User journey with use cases

I collaborated with the researchers to further develop our user journey, adding a layer of use cases and accessibility tools that are relevant at key moments. We also created a guideline for designing the interface so that all designers and researchers are aligned with how we should approach different scenarios and users. 


These documents overall helped both the research and design teams stay unified moving forward.

Use case brainstorming

As we further developed our user journey, I designed visual scenarios to further understand the situation and what users might want or come into problems with during a car ride. This was useful for the team to put into the picture what are some of the foundational usages of the interface and the possibilities it could take. 

A car-share interface was more desirable for users because it is more affordable

By talking to more users, our team began to shift from designing a personal autonomous car interface to a car-share service because most interviewees assumed that this was the most common and widely used. This is because of how car-sharing would be a more affordable option.

Sight and cognitive-impaired users need a way to track the status of their ride

I designed step-by-step notifications to communicate the status of the vehicle for people living with sight impairment. The user can listen to and visualize where and when the car is approaching. They are empowered to be in control during the entire process. 

A log at the bottom lists the processes and steps so that people living with cognitive impairment can look back to it for reference or anyone who wants to confirm that everything is proceeding accurately. 

Physically impacted users often struggle with boarding car ramps

I designed a redeploy button because, during our interviews, people who regularly used cars with ramps often had to redeploy the ramps due to how finicky they were. 

Safety and awareness are high priorities for all users

From our interviews and testing, we found that many users wanted to know if a drop-off/pick-up zone was accessible. This was a common problem our users faced, therefore, I explored including options for users to rate the drop-off/pick-up zones as well as have a satellite view of the area live. 

Consistent communication is key but also avoid sensory overload

I designed the navigation page during the ride to communicate the status of the ride using multiple forms of communication - visual graphics, auditory feedback, and text feedback.

I learned that users don't want to be overloaded with information too often. Therefore, it was important to prioritize the most important information to the users. 

Accessible and full control over ride experience

In an autonomous vehicle, car controls may be difficult to navigate without help, especially if users have physical disabilities. I explored voice and interface controls that would allow the user to take full control of relevant car features.

Create multiple methods of support when mitigating user mistakes

Throughout the experience, I incorporated touchpoints for the user to intervene in the autonomous vehicle at crucial moments. For example, if the destination arrived is not what the user wants, they can tap or tell the interface that they want to reroute, stay parked, or even go back to their original location.

The desire to share experiences with others


I realized as I talked to accessibility users in our community when designing this interface, that each person was very passionate about the topic and had many personal experiences they wanted to share -- to create a support group. Therefore, in the future-state, it would be valuable to encourage a community base where users can interact with each other, share information, and help each other with autonomous vehicle-related problems.

Aligning on branding and creating a design document

I collaborated with the design team to align the branding colors of the app and create a foundational design system for future team members to reference. I also worked with the research team to create design documentation to pass to developers to create a working prototype. This document included explanations of the reasoning and importance behind chosen colors, fonts, sizes, consistent user interactions, and more. 

My Takeaways

✅ I appreciated how our advisor gave us control over how we managed our work and our teams. By doing this, I was able to practice my leadership and organizational skills to work in smaller teams and contribute as part of a larger team.

✅ This was such a large project and I am very lucky to have joined the team at an early stage. Therefore, I was able to contribute and guide the project from the beginning to a well-designed state. I learned more about the end-to-end process of how communication designers design an app interface where they hand it off to the development team.

✅ I enjoyed how closely we interacted with community members as well. I learned how to lead interviews, debrief, and take away key insights for improving an interface design.

Exploring voice flows

As I iteratively built the end-to-end experience with feedback from the user community, I also began exploring voice flows to dive deeper into the details of how we might build this as a product. I took the different user types and developed voice flows based on their interactions and also depicted happy vs. negative paths. 

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