Able Ally

Able Ally connects people with disabilities to support providers based on personalized needs.
This was a one month research project to help Able Ally better understand their users.
My role
UX Researcher
4 weeks
1 Product Manager
3 UX Researchers
Company Context
Able Ally aims to improve access to assistive services.
Over 85 million people in the world are either deaf, deafblind, or hard-of-hearing. Without access to communication, living independently is incredibly challenging. Able Ally’s mission is to improve access to assistive services by operating an online marketplace that connects deaf, deafblind, and hard-of-hearing people with on-demand freelance service providers.
Designing for 3 types of users:
1) Beneficiaires
People with disabilities who need assistive services. Primarily deaf, deafblind, and hard-of-hearing individuals.
2) Support Providers
Professionals who provide assistive services. Primarily freelance sign language interpreters. Also referred to as Service Support Providers or SSP.
3) Organization Coordinators
Coordinators at organizationss who source support providers for their clients with disabilities.
Identify the motivations, daily tasks, and friction points of Able Ally’s users.
Able Ally asked our team to help them validate their assumptions about their users and better understand their needs and pain points in order to create a more accessible and streamlined experience.
Here is how our team executed the project given a 4 week timeline:
My Role
I led the research on Support Providers.
With three user groups (beneficiaries, support providers, and organization coordinators) and three of us on the team, each member was delegated one user group to lead research on.
I took the lead on all aspects of the project regarding support providers including recruiting, interviewing, generating insights, and developing the user group’s persona, empathy map, and journey map.
What are Able Ally’s key goals for this phase of reserach?
What do we know about support providers?
  • Beneficiaries rely on support providers to access their environment.
  • Support providers are primarily freelancers who find work/assignements through agencies.
What are our assumptions?
  • The process of finding work/assignments is not as easy as it can be.
What do we want to know?
  • What tasks do they go through each day as support providers?
  • Friction points?
  • Opportunities for Able Ally?
Who are the people we want to talk to in this research study?
Because Able Alley is primarily serving beneficiaries who are deaf, deafblind, and hard-of-hearing, we wanted to talk to support providers who work with this particular group of people: sign language interpreters and co-navigators.
Modes of research to best solve the problem:
Generative research through
  • Discovery interviews - understand if they have the problem we are hypothesizing and what are contributing factors.
  • Concept exploration - talk with support providers to better understand the problem space, show them design concepts and get feedback.
Research questions:
  • Where do support providers feel supported by agencies and where is it lacking?
  • Where are support providers struggling and thriving?
  • Where do support providers intersect with Able Ally on their journey?
Research outcomes:
  • Create a persona, empathy map, and journey map
  • Determine next steps for Able Ally’s product
User Interviews
I interviewed 5 individuals who provide assistive services.
Able Ally had provided interview transcripts from 5 interviews they had previously condcuted with freelance support providers. These transcipts shed a small light on support providers’ day-to-day, but did not paint a full picture of their experiences as a support provider. My goal was to talk to 5 more individuals to pinpoint their goals, motivations, and pain points as support providers.
After conducting 5 additional interviews, I aggregated data from all 10 interviews and synthezied it into an affinity map. Here are 3 noteable insights that were revealed about support providers:
Support providers want a more streamlined process to pick up freelance assignments they can trust.
With insights gained from user interviews, a persona was created to represent support provider’s goals and frustrations.
Empathy Map
The persona guided the development of an empathy map.
The empathy map was developed as a more detailed extension of the persona to better understand the user as a person. It also helped identify exactly what support providers are struggling with.
Journey Map
A current state journey map helped visualize support providers’ day-to-day experiences.
The journey map helped create a better understanding of the context in which the persona is experiencing challenges and helped pinpoint exactly where pain points are ocurring. It also highlights opportunties for Able Ally to improve support providers experiences.
Shared Key Insights
Our team took a step back and aggregated our insights across all user types to pin point any areas of overlap among the 3 user groups. There were 4 insights that were common across the user groups, which are drawn out below. These insights were labeled as high priority due to the effect on multiple user groups.
Key Learnings + Recommendations
Tying it all together and offering our recommendations.
At the end of our 4 week timeline, our team pulled together our research on each user group and presented our findings and recommendations to Able Ally’s product team. Each user group had their own unique findings in addition to the shared findings (example below). Here’s a peek into our research report:
Wrap Up
To wrap up our research project, we discussed next steps with the product team.
As a team, we assesed the priority of each recommendation that was made and decided which were the most critical to take action on first. We also discussed areas that required more research to reveal specific pain points and areas for more oppotunities.
Stay tuned for my next case study on our ideation and design phase.
The research conducted with this project layed a foundation for Able Ally to design a user-centered product for their users. Now that each user type is defined and pain points and opportunities have been identified, it’s time to ideate and brainstorm solutions to help all 3 user types overcome their individual challenges!
Final Thoughts
Collaborating with a group of UX professionals on a product we were not fully familiar with was a challenging, yet enjoyable experience. We all came into the project with different styles and approaches, but were able to compromise and agree on how we would tackle the project as a team. Having team members to brainstorm and bounce ideas off of was an enriching experience that boradened my way of thinking about UX research and design.
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