An photo-sharing application prototype for friends, family, carers of, and people with age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Look& Hear is an application that allows friends and family, as well as carers, of people with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) to share photos.
Compared with conventional photo-sharing applications, for the benefit of the user with AMD, the photo is first sent to a third-party to narrate the image then forwarded to the end-user. The family member can also choose to narrate the photo themselves if they wish.
The person with AMD will receive both the photo and an audio file describing it, as well as keywords that were used in the narration process (for convenience in finding the image in future).
Tools / Methods
Pen and paper, Adobe XD
Low and high fidelity prototyping
UX designer, prototyper
August to October 2021
According to the ABS, one in two people 65 years and over live with disability. One such form is aged-related macular degeneration (AMD), an eye disease which blurs the central vision. It is a chronic condition which currently has no cure.
People with AMD are an older demographic, and may already not feel very confident with technology. This is especially the case for social media. Some people with this condition are almost legally blind, and so cannot view the images that friends and family share with them.
Create a photo sharing application for people with vision impairment, that provides highly detailed and descriptive alt-text on images and photos that are shared between the primary users (vision impaired) and their friends and family members.
Volunteers can provide voiceovers, acting as a screen-reader; with senders having this option too, to share an audio file as accompaniment to the image.
Targeted primarily towards people with macular degeneration and deteriorating eyesight, the age range is 50-75 year olds at a minimum.
The application can be accessed across platforms if necessary, with the likelihood of possible integration into other applications.
People interviewed were between 60 and 90 years old with a younger outlier in their 30s to be aware of the scope for designing with family members in mind.
- The need for clarity and simplicity in design
- Limited interactions with social media platforms
- When social media was used, it was to connect with family and friends
- Complicated and inaccessible apps deter
- Phones are the primary mode of user interaction
- Fear of new technology and primitive software (tailored for computers and not people)
- Almost everyone consumes media more than they create it
- The divide between phone and tablet use is notable in age groups – the age increase was directly related to the need for larger screen size
- Consumption of media differed even between the 60-year-olds – while most consumed small- scale content, a few spent greater time consuming film and television via larger devices
- Suggested features ranged from many concepts to very simple design (three-step processes)
Having signed up for the application on her phone, Jane walks through the tutorial which guides her on the preliminary steps in using the app. ‘Create account’ and ‘Verify account’ are checked off, with other steps still to be complete. The first of which is ‘Send Your First Photo’.
Selecting this button, the app asks whether it has permission to view her device’s gallery which she accepts. Jane chooses a photo of her family’s new puppy that she has been meaning to send to her mum for some time now.
Before sending, she is able to enter some keywords like “Bobby”, “kelpie”, “puppy” and so on, which a trusted third party will then describe in great detail to Valerie, as well as enlarging the contents of the photo.
Jane hits send and is notified by the app that the photo is being described, and will let her know when Valerie has received the photo and its audio description.
Writing a story
Patrick has recently completed a beautiful mural of his garden, full of many detailed flora and fauna. Despite their living together, Valerie has difficulty making out
all the elements within it due to its complexity.
Patrick decides to take a picture of the mural and send it to her, describing all the birds and plant life that comprise it.
He tags the photo with “mural” and similar terms and saves the audio file as a draft so that he may send it to her device later, with all its details highlighted (zoomed and enhanced) by the application at a high resolution.
Signing up and logging in
Valerie’s deteriorating eyesight impedes her ability to view content on smaller screens. As such, her preferred method of viewing content is on the personal desktop computer that she shares with her partner, Patrick.
Through word of mouth, she was inspired to sign up for a new web-based application created for people with macular degeneration and general vision impairment.
Creating an account is tailored for Valerie, considering size of buttons and font, as well as giving the option for voice-over at any point in the process. She utilises its text-to-speech option, entering her contact details when prompted.
The ‘Submit’ button is prominent and once selected her account is ready to (send and) receive photos.
Reading and browsing existing stories
Stephen has let his friends and family know about
the app and using it as a bridge between the current apps he is familiar with and the uncertainty of what lies ahead of him. Currently his sister has joined and accepted his friend request, and sent through a photo of her veggie garden.
Stephen receives a notification of this through his smart watch, which reads aloud the description of the bountiful harvest that awaits, with the audio provided by his sister.
The watch then prompts Stephen to check out the image and audio message on a larger device.
These are a few designs for mobile. The application was also designed for computer. The images relate to signing up for an account; uploading, creating, sharing, and browsing for content.
High fidelity prototypes
These are a few of the flows from mobile designs. For computer designs, see below.
Throughout the development of the high-fidelity prototypes, quite a few alterations were made from the initial paper prototype designs. For the benefit of the end-user, greater consideration was made to the appearance of the pages, increasing negative space and contrast between text and image.
It was important that the interface included a colour-blind friendly palette. During research, very few options returned that did not distract from the photo’s content. For this reason, a dark constrast, along with the soft shadows that typify neumorphism, was adopted. Dark mode was to be set as an option to toggle between, but test participants preferred this design which became the default, allowing the images to pop.
Considering my target audience as 50-75 year olds, I emphasised the importance of the match between system and the real world. This is reflected with the slightly skeuomorphic approach, where interface buttons include bevelling for the appearance of real-world buttons. Similarly, the photo albums that users select from look like reels of film, in that they pop against the black background. This, along with help and documentation, and universal usability are reflected in the final product.
Copyright Tara Sleeman 2022