Spotify for deaf people

Ludwig van Beethoven portrait

Today, I will share with you my one week project which was “adding a feature on an existing application”.

For that, I chose Spotify because this application gives me exactly what I’m looking for: a great music experience. 🎵

But Spotify doesn’t give that nice experience to everyone.

We forget about four hundred and sixty-six million people worldwide, who are deaf or hearing-impaired.
Based on this, I wanted to take up the challenge of designing a feature specially dedicated to them.

To ensure that this feature should be valuable, I performed Secondary and User researches, Mid-fi wireframes, Prototype testing, and finally a Hi-fi Prototype.

Competitors analysis

On the musical streaming market, Spotify is currently the most popular thanks to its ease of use, clear design interface, large music genre, and playlist choice.

After this small analysis, let’s go deeper into what interesting to us.

SECONDARY RESEARCHES

What is music for deaf people?

  • Music is Vibration :
    Deaf can’t hear, but they can feel the vibrations of the frequencies. The lower tones are the most felt.
  • Music is Visual :
    The artist and musician Myles de Bastion mixes art & technology with innovative installations that enable sound to be experienced. His work offers a sensorial aspect to the music.
CYMATIC STAR, Myles de Bastion (2015)
  • Music is Sign language:
    Expressed through manual articulations in combination with non-manual elements.

What is music for hearing-impaired?

Usually, the hearing impaired can hear the sounds, but they have trouble listening to singer’s voices and lyrics. To help them we have…

  • The useful lyrics:
    Spotify recently partnered with Genius to offer lyric display functionality
  • T position:
    A device that allows filtering the sound, thanks to electromagnetic loops.
  • Sign language interpreter:
    With this impressive performance of Tommy Krångh, an interpreter who literally stole the show of a Swedish singer during Eurovision.

INTERVIEWS

I decided to choose 3 user types to have a larger panel of points of view: one perfect hearing, one hearing impaired, and one deep deaf.

Interview review

I spoke with them by written messages about their music’s relationship. It was very interesting for me to discover that all of them loved the music! But they confessed to me that even they have hearing aids, they still have troubles.

Dodorthé is paired up, and she could hear the music but could not hear the words well. I was touched by the fact that as a child, she was sometimes frustrated that she couldn’t understand the lyrics. She had to read the lyrics on the back of her CDs to be able to follow the thread and she discovered new emotions in the music she had always listened to.

“When I was little, I was annoyed not to understand the lyrics,
I’ve always been curious to understand the story.” Dorothé

Even Patrick is deaf, he is also an artist and a musician. He prefers low-frequency music to feel the vibrations. He was interested in the idea of ​​creating a new community with music playlists dedicated to them.

“With deaf, the society is inclusive only in the name. This feature could help deaf people to create a community and educate the others on the subject.” Patrick

PROTOTYPES

From these stats, I decided to focus on the hearing-impaired and to add 3 features to Spotify :

  • An LSF mode with a video of a person translating lyrics into sign language.
  • A Lyrics mode
  • The Position T (compatible with the device)

I did my mid-fi prototypes on Figma using Atomic Design to understand better how to build a design system, as we can see here.

The design system of Spotify app on Figma

USABILITY TESTING

After that, I was able to conduct my Usability testing and for that, I ask my users to do a little role play: they had to imagine that are hearing-impaired and they just have downloaded Spotify.
Here are the 3 main tasks they had to do:

  1. Set preferences in “hearing impaired” mode
  2. Navigate on the app, choose a playlist and listen to a song 🎶
  3. Remove the “hearing impaired” function from the playlist
A global view of the mid-fi prototypes of Spotify

They were quite very good at it, so I had only a few changes: regarding the flow, they all wanted to have a hearing setting button on the played music page, to avoid going back on the playlist page for that. They also wanted to be able to choose between one of the 3 hearing modes independently. After I fixed that I did the Hi-Fi prototype.

HI-FI PROTOTYPE

Hi-fi prototype of Spotify home page

To set the hearing-impaired mode, we click on the icon ear to set the lyrics, the sign language, and the T position. We can set these preferences from the played music page, the playlist page, but also from the home page on the profile page. We click the preference icon, the “hearing deficiency” mode, and hey presto.

Hi-fi prototype of the hearing-impaired feature on Spotify

KEY LEARNING

Spotify for hearing-impaired people was first a surprising subject, but I loved this challenge. I discovered a new community of impaired people, who were very kind and caregiver during my interviews. It was very engaging to work around their disability and well-being around my passion number one: music.

It was very interesting to work on the sensorial aspect of a digital experience and exploring the 5 senses in technology.

What next?

If I have the opportunity to continue working on this project, I would love to develop the part dedicated to the deaf and imagine features that play with vibrations for example.

THANK YOU

Thanks for reading me, I hope you like this article.
Do not hesitate to 💬 or to 👏 and see you for the next project!

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Eloïse Merian

Eloïse Merian

Product Designer @Foodchéri · Art Director/Graphic Designer background · eloisemerian.myportfolio.com/eloise-merian.myportfolio.com · music & coconut lover