Big Life Fix: Róisín’s Voice

RTE 1’s Big Life Fix focuses on helping people struggling with everyday tasks due to ill health or disability. They pair people who need help up with engineers, inventors, designers to create innovative ways to enhance their quality of life.

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Trevor Vaugh and Chiara Cavarra, two of the show’s fixers, contacted us for help with a big challenge. They wanted to improve the quality of life of Motor Neuron Disease sufferer, Róisín.

Róisín is a Dublin mother of three in her early 30’s. She is suffering from Motor Neuron Disease. It will rapidly decrease her ability to move and communicate. Sadly, the disease will eventually take her life.

After hearing Róisín’s story it didn’t take long for us to assemble a team of volunteers from across the company from all departments to work on the challenge.

We needed to move quickly. We set out to design and develop an app that would help Róisín to communicate through a digitised version of her own voice. It was important to reflect Róisín’s personality and make it as easy as possible to use. It was also key to get it done rapidly as Róisín’s health was deteriorating.

After meeting Róisín and having the opportunity to discuss her problems with her we worked on a series of prototypes. Once tested with Róisín we iterated to refine the functionality to her needs and finally delivered an intuitive, easy to use app.

The app allowed Róisín to access about 800 pre-recorded phrases through touch or subtle head movements. We also integrated an AI voice synthesis tool that would allow her to input new phrases. We used beacon technology to add context to the on-screen content. It displays relevant content depending on where Róisín is or who is in her vicinity.

We also created an easy to use app that she could use to record messages to share with Róisín’s loved ones in the future.

Róisín was delighted with the apps. She could start using them straight away to help with communicating while on her breathing machine. There was also an incredible reaction to the programme in terms of viewing figures as well as positive sentiment on social media and we hope it has highlighted how design, technology, creativity and collaboration can have a positive impact on people.

We have put together a more in-depth case study of what we did and how we did it. We will also be hosting a webinar on accessibility on world accessibility day on May 21 2020 and would love for you to join us.

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