Reflections~

To start off – I want to say I thoroughly enjoyed this course this semester.  I loved working with an actual client and seeing how our work could affect him.  But I also really enjoyed the lectures with panels and speakers, and the labs where we got to learn more about specific AT and hear about other group projects.  The instructors and staff were really passionate about AT, and you could see and feel it every time you walked in – and this is what got me excited to come in to class every week.

Now to reflect on specifics throughout the semester…

Immediately after hearing the idea of the project, ideas started going through my head on how we can make this awesome mobile app that people can use on the go and would be expansive and dynamic and fun to use.  I had ideas on how we could make this go big, get others to contribute and we could crowdsource all the data and have a single place to people to go to to find out if their environment is accessible.  But then we met with our client, Chris, and I realized I was coming up with ideas way too early in the design process – we still didn’t even know what the real problem was!  So almost immediately, my understanding of the project morphed and I took a much more focused approach – all future ideas were focused on making Chris’ life easier, not just anyone and everyone.  The plan was to first get Chris what he needed, and if that could be applied to the general public, then bonus points for us.  In that respect, our success metrics entirely revolved around how Chris used the website we were planning on making and how convenient it was for him, whereas originally before meeting him, I would have talked about success metrics on the scale of a whole city.

We took a lot of time prototyping and planning out what to do for our project.  We thought that would be the hardest part, but I actually found the technical side very difficult.  To be more clear, I found the technical portions that I did not yet understand to be the most difficult.  Our group split up the implementation into front end vs. back end, and I worked on the front end side.  When we began integrating the front and back together, I found it difficult to understand what was happening, and in general I just had a lot of catching up to do.  This confusion could have been reduced a bit if we had all realized earlier what languages we would be using to implement the website, and if we had all worked on basic tutorials to have a background.  Now, me and my teammates know that we want to try to get everyone in future groups to have a general understanding of the tools that we’ll start using in the project.  It doesn’t have to be an extensive knowledge – just a very very basic idea can even help put people on the same page.

The idea of “universal accessibility” was one that was constantly on my mind towards the closure of our semester.  In the past few months, we had been working closely with Chris to create a product for him.  But if we wanted to scale it further, we’d have to rethink a lot of aspects of the website to make it universally accessible.  I realized again how difficult it is to make something truly, universally accessible.  It’s an interesting problem I’d like to keep working on to solve.

I learned a lot of skills this semester – not just hard coding and design skills, but more importantly, I learned the soft skills such as understanding your client and thinking critically about the world and environment around you.  So – thanks, PPAT :)

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