For Web Designers: Persona of Deaf Person

Shawn Henry’s book, Just Ask: Integrating Accessibility Throughout Design, is available online. Yes, the entire thing. Henry provides two persona examples of people with disabilities. Personas help Web designers visualize a Web site’s target market and design for that market. Thought it worthy of sharing in this blog.
One persona is a retiree with macular degeneration and the other is a college student who is deaf.
Henry does a good job with the college student. Although, I think many deaf people use a cell phone with a QWERTY keyboard. I could be wrong, but many of the deaf bloggers say they use a Sidekick or other cell phone with QWERTY. I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t use a TTY anymore — however, I am sure that’s not common especially those with many friends who are deaf. I prefer using instant messenger to make my relay calls as the computer is faster than a TTY.
Henry does account for differences, “Remember that people are diverse. Be careful not to assume that all users, including users with disabilities, use the product the same way.”


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  1. That case study seems rather 1998. Current popular devices like the sidekick, treo, iphone and blackberry have qwerty keyboards. It’s not assumed you’re deaf if you use one. Seems a bit much to be schlepping around a TTY when you can use IP relay through IM on one of these phones…except for iPhone 🙁 …but whatever floats your phone call…

  2. I wonder how you get people to participate in user testing!

    • Meryl on December 18, 2007 at 7:53 am
    • Reply

    Good question, Bill. has a sign up process for people who want to become testers — unfortunately, it has a phone component to it. I’ve emailed the company
    Interpretopia, thanks for confirming that the case study is a little behind the times — I didn’t want to make an assumption just based on a few people’s experiences.

  3. My TTY is collecting dust in the kitchen but I can’t make myself toss it out just yet!

    • Meryl on December 18, 2007 at 8:22 am
    • Reply

    Glad I’m not alone! I have about four TTYs including one yellowing one! The nice thing about having them is they’re great tools for show and tell. Two of my TTYs at my daughter’s middle school on display for “Inclusive Week.”

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