Adrienne Luk
6 min readJan 25, 2023


project 1: understanding design opportunities and creating concepts

week 1 (01.19)

In this week’s in-class activities, I learned that information extends beyond what is given, but involves all senses. This was experienced during the mindful eating activity. This activity allowed me to become aware of the ways that smell, taste, sound, and color play an important role in creating memories and connection for those involved.

In another activity, we were instructed to draw from memory. This activity helped me learn what I pay attention to and deem as important information when observing.

(left) my drawing (right) the original scene

Through lecture and readings, I learned more about research and observational methods which I can use in my own project. Quantitative research/analysis was actually overlooked when I first began my own research. It was helpful to be reminded that quantitative information is important even when observing human behavior. We were also able to practice interviewing a third person by asking the correct questions that are not leading, and that answers are not to be interpreted and should be taken as what it is. This allows for the most unbiased information from the interviewee.

Body storming was also something that would be helpful in my own research. Since empathy plays a significant role in design, being able to simulate the situation, for which I am providing a solution for, by putting myself in their shoes would be greatly beneficial to target the issue.

target population + context: students with hearing loss/auditory disabilities who utilize the Port Authority buses

Step 1: Research & Literature Review

i. sensitivity to sound

Noise sensitivity could pose a great issue for those who travel by bus. There are often noises that one may not typically be bothered by, but some who struggle with sensitivity to sound may find that the cumulative noises that come from the inside of a bus to be anxiety-inducing and cause strong negative reactions.

Some conditions related to noise sensitivity are:

  • tinnitus: chronic ringing in ears
  • hyperacusis: hypersensitive to loud sounds, i.e. ambulance sirens, lawn mowers, etc. certain sounds are painfully loud and perceived as dangerous
  • misophonia: strong, emotional, and sometimes, physiologic responses to ordinary human sounds, i.e. chewing, breathing, tapping, that come from others; causes strong feelings of anger, anxiety, or disgust

methods for coping:

  • don’t overprotect against sound
  • exposure therapy

Hypersensitivity To Sound And Anxiety Disorders: Symptoms, Causes and Proven Solutions (

5 Ways to Cope with Sensitivity to Sound — Cleveland Clinic

Sensitivity to Sounds: What You Should Know — Kenwood Hearing Center (

ii. hearing loss

  • conductive hearing loss: this type of hearing loss makes it hard to hear soft or low volume sounds.
  • sensorineural hearing loss: trouble hearing sounds when there’s background noise, particular difficulty understanding children’s and female voices, dizziness / balance problems, trouble hearing high-pitched sounds, sounds and voices seem muffled.
  • mixed hearing loss: combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.

What Is Conductive Hearing Loss? (

Sensorineural Hearing Loss: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment (

Step 2: Field observations

i. preliminary observations

In this session, I took the bus while attempting to empathize with a student with hearing loss / auditory issues. Because I cannot simulate the issues directly, the best I could do was wear noise-cancelling headphones.

One significant issue I experienced was that I was unable to hear the bus stops when they were announced, and I also did not know when a stop was requested. This meant it required me to pay extra attention to being aware of my surroundings, which can get tiring.

Another issue was that I could not hear when someone was talking to me, or if someone was behind me, I did not have the peripheral knowledge to be aware and it would always startle me. If someone tried talking to me, I could not hear them and they would get frustrated. This could also be problematic since sometimes the bus drivers talk to you and get mad quite easily so if they were unaware that the student had hearing issues, it would be a stressful situation for them to be in.

ii. second round of observations (01.19 — 11:50AM, 01.20— 2PM)

During the initial bus ride, I took the 67 bus. Although it was a pretty short ride, I noticed that the bus was relatively full since many students were going to campus for their classes. Not many people were standing but I found that regardless, I still get pretty anxious requesting for the bus to stop when I am not near the wire. I also could not hear when the bus stops were being announced. The bus was relatively quiet, but there were definitely a lot of small conversations going on.

In the second bus ride, I took the 61B. This bus was extremely crowded and packed. I was fortunate enough to be the last person to be allowed on the bus, but there was a queue of students who wanted to get on too, and the bus driver was not very loud in letting them know they could not fit. He had to raise his voice. The bus was extremely full. Many who were standing would also lose their balance quite often. Some would also push and shove to get off the bus. Some would say excuse me, but very quietly and would end up just rushing off the bus.

Step 3: Brainstorming solutions

in class brainstorming — stakeholders

week 2 (01.26)

This week we began brainstorming stakeholders, pain points, and creating personas as a group. I think that working as a team always comes with its struggles. I personally struggle to communicate well with my teammates and I often find that I either voice too much or too little. In this project, I tried to make sure I listen to everyone without being interruptive. I enjoy hearing and learning from my peers and how their ideas may differ from mine and how I can learn from others.

empathy map
brainstorming pain points
developing personas

week 3 (1/31)

usability/feasibility map

This week we brainstormed solutions and made a first attempt at compiling the presentation. We did a dry run presentation in class which was helpful. We were able to get some feedback from our peers which helped us identify where we could improve in the way we were delivering our information and how it was being received by those hearing it for the first time. I think there were many things that were helpful, like being clearer about how our solutions were addressing the pain points we had identified. Also, maintaining consistency throughout the graphics. Another was our stakeholder map where the use of color was more confusing than helpful in the way it was being used to differentiate categories.

week 4 (2/07)

Final report:

Final presentation:

I think that our team did well in consolidating our ideas in a timely manner and communicating our individual ideas and thoughts well. I think there were moments where there were small disagreements in our conversations but overall it went pretty smoothly. I think we definitely could have spent more time as a team to work on our presentation together outside of class. I think there was definitely a lack of collaboration beyond the classroom space which if it were made up for would have further improved the quality of our work. I think that in the future, I would want to have more time to delve into a project with my team beyond the classroom.