NYU Ability Project: Phase 4 with Antonio

This week I began Phase 4 in the Human-Centered Design methodology with making electronics schematics more accessible. We’re doing this using a Swell Form machine, and redesigning schematic diagram to meet ADA standards and best practices.

The past two months, I’ve been designing and testing rough redesigns to see if they meet Antonio’s needs. It’s an exercise of designing for one with the hopes that the conventions might support future ITP students, as well.

Digital Output


Electronic schematic of a Digital Out Digital In with braille and simplified graphics


The first graphic I tested with Antonio was also the simplest and the one I felt most confident about. However, I’ve learned that a good rule of thumb for HCD is that the thing you test you’re most confident about, is likely the thing that will need the most revisions. It’s about their needs, not your assumptions.

  1. Identifier on top left is better (the double slash in the corner)
    1. Margin is better
  2. Font could be a little bigger (it is 30pt, I think scaling to fit for printing shrunk this and is the reason for the feedback)
  3. Braille 1 could be braille 2

2 LEDs switch, Resistor in Series


Electronic schematics graphic of two LEDs and a resistor in series

This one uses a key convention in attempt to simplify the noise around the graphic.

  1. All caps = “..”
  2. Resistor is too close together, the zig zags should be further apart
  3. Key is all over the place
    1. He likes the key, but doesn’t feel like it should be on the page.
    2. Waste of swell form. Key should be on a separate page
    3. Start binding them. Opposite facing page has a key.

Lab Serial Duplex

For this one we experimented with a range of solutions. Keys, removing pins, sizing the components, and labeling inside of the microcontrollers.


Electronic schematic of Serial Duplex

Electronic schematic of Serial Duplex

Electronic schematic of Serial Duplex

I tested a few versions with Antonio to ask him what felt best. The script I used can be found here.

Antonio touching the tactile graphics, side-by-side

Antonio touching the side-by-side tactile graphics for comparison

  1. Braille is too close together
  2. Missing a key
  3. Resistor is too close together, need the wider zig zag
  4. Pins are good- he likes the feel of them and they help identify it as an Arduino
  5. Dot to show a connection, and it would feel good at the Arduino connection especially
  6. Brisajlfjwel = Braille that is too close together and sounds like a jumble of letters
  7. Accelerometer doesn’t feel attributed to the schematic

Here is Antonio showing me how the lack of clutter around the Arduino helps to define its boundaries:

Antonio using both hands to show a clean delineation of an Aduino

Antonio directed me to BANA’s Guidelines and Standards for Tactile Graphics. Tom felt that the section on electrical schematics was lacking, especially these areas:

  • 7.7.2 Schematic Drawings
    A schematic drawing explains how something works; that is, it shows the relation between the parts.
    Example: the wiring of an electrical system.
  • Schematic drawings should be prepared as a tactile graphic, simplifying and keying where necessary.

We are still tracking to come up with more specific recommendations in regards to tactile electronic schematics.

Arduino Uno Parts


Diagram with Braille text labels of an Aduino Uno

I had made two versions of the Arduino Uno, one with parts, and one with pins. I tested the parts version, though I realized that the new Swell Form paper we ordered is more sensitive to heat than the last batch. This caused the elevated areas to bubble up. Each bubble felt like another individual component, which is understandably confusing.

Antonio comparing Arduino diagrams side-by-side

  1. Pins as dots is more representative of how it looks
    1. Dots are too small to count
  2. Always should have a title, even with a facing page

Next step will be making this changes, printing, and user testing again!


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