Our approach

We combined community-based co-design approach with action research. This is the plan to empower Deaf people via their participation in the research, also to alleviate the viewpoint and bias from designers or developers.

Deaf Community of Cape Town (DCCT) is the first Deaf community which  we started the collaboration with since 2001. DCCT and the research team worked toward the mutual interest to derive with a communication tool which bridges communication between Deaf people who mainly use sign language for communication and hearing people. There were many other communication tools we had come up with according to the technologies back then. SignSupport is the latest communication tool, in other word- mobile application which we have been working on since 2009. For more information, see http://repository.uwc.ac.za/xmlui/handle/10566/658

In the fusion of community-based co-design and action research for the design and development of SignSupport, the Deaf community and the multi-disciplinary research team collaborate in the all steps of the research. We co-explore and revealed the communication target, co-plan our step forward, co-design the mobile application, and co-evaluate the design together. The process revolves and re-iterates. The most important thing is we take the idea which the Deaf community leads and implement it to reality. Currently, number of Deaf communities in collaboration with us are growing together with the expansion of our projects within SignSupport. We are thriving toward the stage where the Deaf community becomes the leader in the development of SignSupport and do-it-themselves. There are still challenges in terms of multiple resource; however, “the dream may come true.”

Examples of our co-creation are as shown below.

A drawing from a participant to reflect the communication problem in a Deaf person's life
A drawing from a participant to reflect the communication problem in a Deaf person’s life

 

Deaf participants discussed their ideas during a generative session which led to SignSupport V1
Deaf participants discussed their ideas during a generative session which led to SignSupport V1

 

Ideas drawn by Deaf participants for the design of SignSupport V2 and mobile phone for Deaf people
Ideas drawn by Deaf participants for the design of SignSupport V2 and mobile phone for Deaf people

 

Co-evaluation of the design of SignSupport V2 at a hospital pharmacy setting