Through our process, we learned that an activity should be easy to understand and not require an extensive learning process. In our initial co-design session, we used a “Journey Mapping” activity, which was new and confusing to most of the participants. Some people required more instruction while others felt constrained by its structure. Learning from this experience, we started using conventional worksheets. Most participants found this format to be simple and engaging, however, those with vision loss, physical or learning disabilities were unable to participate in note taking.
Conflicting needs of participants was a challenge for some groups. For example, participants with vision loss were unable to physically interact with materials and had difficulty participating in prototyping and following discussions that involved visual description of ideas. Also, some of the tools used (e.g. sticky notes/flip charts) were inaccessible for those who could not write (e.g. blind, paralyzed) while they were necessary means of communication for some others, such as deaf participants.
Collaborating with partner organizations helped us to better incorporate participant needs in the activities. Our partners at the Deaf Culture Centre reminded us that some of their members primarily communicate using American Sign Language, and suggested checklists to minimize writing. During this activity, we grouped hearing and deaf participants together to enable note taking and provided ASL interpretation to facilitate communication. We tried to minimize barriers to participation, by sharing the written/visual materials with participants in advance, and providing activities in multiple modalities.