Date of Award

August 2019

Degree Type





Donald Carr


Airport, App, Communication, Deaf, Emergency, Navigation

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities


While it is incredibly difficult for a hearing person to understand exactly what it’s like to be Deaf and hard of hearing, most individuals are aware that hearing difficulty comes with a unique set of challenges. This forces those who are Deaf and hard of hearing to experience the world in an entirely different way than the rest of the population, and not always how hearing people expect.

Deaf and hard of hearing people cannot hear loudspeaker announcements, so utilizing public transportation often involves trying to communicate with hearing people which can be challenging. This is especially true when people are rushed. User-interface technology helps improve how people with different abilities navigate public spaces. However, through a comprehensive literature review, I concluded that the current mobile applications available do not effectively address these problems and other issues that Deaf travelers experience. This thesis focuses on tackling these issues in airports and by considering the experiences of those who cannot hear. Surveying and interviews were used to gain insight and knowledge from Deaf and hard of hearing individuals, which was used to guide the development of a design intervention. The design process included evaluating wireframe prototypes of smartphone application design through a series of user testing. This assisted in refining an application called the Hear Here app. The resulting design:

- Broadcasts information shown on airport monitors.

- Alerts and notifies travelers of changes in gates or flights that are announced by public announcements.

- Facilitates dialogue between Deaf and hearing travelers which eliminates feelings of frustration and isolation, especially during an emergency.

- Integrates airport maps to streamline wayfinding and navigation.

- Utilizes real-time translation of announcements to allow Deaf and hard of hearing people be aware of their surroundings and navigate public transportation with ease.

- Eases communication between the Deaf community and hearing individuals.


Open Access



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