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Outreach: Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library

CHALLENGE

How might we bring more blind and visually impaired patrons to the library and have the full benefits of the library’s services. Most visually impaired and blind people in New York City don’t know about the library’s workshop and training services, but they show strong interests in learning.

OUTCOME

We raise awareness of library workshops by introducing a brochure contained desirable information, and by leveraging existing system and services. We identify various potential touchpoints to engage more customers at early stage of their job seeking process.

DISCOVER CONTEXT

The Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library is the only branch of the New York Public Library that serves people who are blind, visually impaired, or are otherwise physically unable to read standard print. The Library serves residents who live in New York City and Long Island. It provides reading rooms, large collections of specially-formatted materials, audio playback equipment for listening to recorded books and magazines, and a variety of other electronic reading aids.
The Library also operates the Braille and Talking Book Program, a free mailing service for library books and materials. In addition, the Library offers educational and individual assistive technology training, as well as, local community events for patrons.

Scope: 7 weeks
Adviser: Marshall Sitten (Citi Community Development)
Team: Margarita Yong, Paula Daneze, Ke Hu
Role: concept generation, field research, interviewer, design user journey map and blueprints

RESEARCH & FINDINGS
 

Field Research
The team visited the Library and conducted semi-directed interviews with library staff members as well as on-site observations. In addition, the team interviewed important stakeholders including current teaching volunteering staff, inactive users, and a staff member from the New York State Commission for the Blind (NYSCB). All names of interview participants will remain confidential.

It is not easy to reach folks that are blind, and just fine, and employed, and they may not know that we are doing things with 3D printers, maps, or programming and coding at the library. The other groups of people who are really hard to reach, folks that are in more insular cultural communities. People that we could offer services to but they may not be as looped in, and they may not go get public services.
— library staff
I recognize that we have a technology that talk all the time and voices in our head, and whether it’s a reader, or a recorded book, or an iphone with text and speech, you don’t get to see the word. How do you spell ‘there’ and ‘their’? When you touch the word in braille, you can visualize that under your finger and see the difference. If I don’t have those right, I wouldn’t know how to spell text messages.
— volunterring staff
I am planning to learn braille at the library because people seem to be satisfied with their classes. They are a little more accessible because you don’t have to go through somebody like the counselor from the Commision for the Blind.
— inactive user

Key Insights:

  • Most visually impaired and blind people in New York City don’t know about the library’s workshop and training services.

  • There is an enormous amount of people the library isn’t reaching. 

  • Learning assistive technology is one of the main incentives that draws people into the library.

 

Desk Research
Research shows that unemployment is one of the top concerns among participants. According to the National Federation of the Blind, it is estimated that 10 million Americans are blind or visually impaired and 70 percent of working-age blind adults are unemployed. Misconceptions of Employers, Transportation and Mobility, Lack of Training on Assistive Technology are some main factors contribute to unemployment. In addition, braille literacy, mobility and orientation and keyboard touching are top 3 skills when seeking for a job. Unfortunately, only 1 in 10 can read braille. 

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DESIGN SOLUTION

Through journey map and service blueprint, we are able to identify where to best introduce the solution in order to make greater impact, reaching more potential customers to participate library workshops and events. The users are incentivized to join workshops because library provides fast and easy sign-up process, welcoming environment, free services, and personalized training and workshops

Service Blueprint

Customer Empathy Journey Map

We chose to target at people who go to NYSCB because it is the first stop for many newly blind people.
The solutions aims to reach more customers by:

 

Library Workshop Brochure in NYSCB's Welcome Package

 

MOPD Website

NYPL Andrew Heiskell Website

NYPL Andrew Heiskell Website - Workshop and Training

Following graphics are separated into two scenarios as users seek job training and employment:
A - registered as legally blind
B - not registered as legally blind

( Solution is on the right highlighted in red ) 

A - BEFORE - Existing User Journey

A - AFTER - Ideal User Journey


B - BEFORE - Existing User Journey

B - AFTER - Ideal User Journey

RISK ASSESSMENT

Assuming that the number of visitors to the Library will increase if the proposed design succeeds, the team anticipates the following risks in the future:

  • Lack of teaching volunteers - We aim to accept the risk. As more patrons coming into the library, it also increases library's chance to hire or train volunteers
  • Lack of physical space - We aim to mitigate the risk by rearranging the library existing floor plan on the second floor to create more workshop space.