Connecting the Dots with Ruby Steel and Will Merrill

Connecting the Dots with Ruby Steel and Will Merrill 1800 1200 Kane Simms

This week, we’re finding out how Ruby Steel and Will Merrill made Alexa more accessible for Susan as part of BBC 2’s Big Life Fix.

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In this episode

Voice first devices such as smart speakers are often touted as accessible. That’s one of the main reasons voice assistants are forecast to grow in adoption and usage over the next 5 years. Voice is the new interface.

Whether you’re a child, an elderly person or if you have a disability of some kind, voice is here to enable to you interact with technology and connect with those around you.

However, as you’ll find out in this episode, there are some fundamental accessibility problems with smart speakers. Having to download the app in order to onboard, for example. Even the design of smart speakers themselves can be intimidating for some.

As part of the BBC 2 Big Life Fix in the UK, Ruby Steel and Will Merrill of Smart Design Worldwide looked to address these problems for Susan.

Susan has MS and requires round the clock care. Even things like changing the TV channel are a challenge for Susan and Smart Design Worldwide looked to change that.

Through creating a custom build, 3D printed casing in the shape of an owl, this ‘accessibility jacket’ made Alexa less intimidating. Inside, were two Echos. One for Susan to address, and that one talked to the other. Why? You’ll find out in today’s episode.

There are also plenty of insights into how to make your voice experiences more accessible. Some of which, like the use of small nested menus, go against the grain of current VUI design thinking.

Prepare to be inspired and challenged.

BBC Two’s The Big Life Fix Series 2: Project Susan from Smart Design on Vimeo.



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Ruby Steel in Big Life Fix


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