Ongoing capstone project: helping users who are visually impaired and blind with object and text recognition. Sponsored by

Giada Sun
Yagmur Erten

In progress
Mar - Aug 2020

My role
Research Design
Interaction Design
Voice UI Design

We want to understand visually impaired people’s online shopping and their emotional context, such as what gives them joy or frustrates them. We aim to recognize not only the barriers that blind people encounter, but also recognize the motivations that blind people have in common, and provide an alternative pleasant online shopping experience as our ultimate goal.


How might we assist blind people in retrieving relevant product information through an independent experience?


User Research
Conducted SME interviews, and designed research to understand VI users' current technology usage and shopping behavior. Synthesized insights, design principles and design opportunities.

My Contribution

This is an ongoing project, here is what we did for research so far:


According to the National Federation of the Blind [32], there are approximately 10 million legally blind people and visually impaired people living in the U.S. alone. Many people are unable to participate in some physical and digital aspects of life due to their conditions.

Expert Interviews

With the information we gathered from secondary research and articles, we gained a general understanding of how blind people use the Internet. With that knowledge, we spoke with experts in this field to expand our understanding of blind people’s online shopping behaviors. I have conducted four Subject Matter Expert (SME) interviews, with those who have previously worked in the area of blind people and accessible technology design. The key takeaways from those interviews are:

Competitive Assessment
Shopping Process

How do blind people navigate on online shopping platforms, compare products, and return items?
What kind of products do blind people tend to purchase online vs in-store?
How do blind people assess shopping platforms’ accessibility?

Support & Tools

What tools are available/missing for blind people while shopping online?
How can we support blind people while they shop online?


How is the process of shopping for familiar products different from exploring new products?
How do blind people browse and explore products that they have never purchased before?


9 Phone Interviews with Directed Storytelling
The goal was to understand our user's general shopping journey by collecting first-hand data of blind people’s past experiences, opinions, and attitudes around online shopping. We also wanted to identify any advancements and frustrations that exist within the current technologies

5 Remote Moderated Studies
We asked participants to share their screens with us through Zoom, and requested them to do online shopping exercises as we observed their patterns. We watched our participants' steps as they browsed and selected both familiar and unfamiliar items. Our goal was to gain a deep understanding of blind people’s online shopping behaviors and the tools that use and pinpoint any missing features that could ease their process of online shopping.

& Insights

Intentional Shopping
Most blind people are intentional shoppers, who are not interested in browsing items without purpose or taking website’s recommendations as reference.

Familiarity and Recurring Items
Familiarity with items and websites during shopping is crucially important to blind customers.

Relevant and Specific Information
Blind users are specific about relevant information about products: they use screen readers to skim websites through only reading key elements.

Interdependent with Assistive Technology

Most blind people like using VUI devices for short commands to complete every
day tasks, such as setting alarms, checking time and the weather.

Design principles

User Needs

Ideation & 
Down Selection


More design relevant content coming soon...

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Designed & Illustrated by Weixi Zhang