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Mini Hackathon

Working with a multi-disciplinary team to build an ASL Learning website game for families of hearing impaired children

The Problem

Research shows that 9/10 hearing impaired children are born to hearing parents, but 70% of those parents do not learn how to sign. Without the ability to learn American Sign Language (ASL), parents might have difficulty meeting the child's basic communication needs and run the risk of isolating their child unintentionally.

The Solution

We created a game that families can test their knowledge of sign language alongside of their hearing impaired child to foster increased family unity, engagement and fun. 

Target Audience

Families of a hearing impaired child

UX Lead | UX Designer


September 2023


Figma, Zoom, Slack





3 UX Designers and 3 Developers

The Research

In such a short time frame, we relied heavily on secondary research. Since we wanted to create an inclusive product, our team started by talking about which apps we loved to use.

We found our opportunity after reading a staggering statistic:


“9 out of 10 children who are born deaf are born to parents who hear” but “An estimated 70% of these hearing parents never learn ASL,”

according to the National Association of the Deaf. 

We looked at apps and websites that were designed to teach ASL: Lingvano, ASL Pocket Sign, and ASL Blossom. We also looked at comparators as educational sites like Quizlet. Many of these apps focus heavily on video or gesture tracking as their primary source of teaching.


However, none of these apps had the ability of people to interact with and learn together.

The Persona

Meet Margaret, a mom of two who lives in Columbus, OH. Her youngest child is hearing impaired and she needs a quick and easy way to learn ASL so she can communicate with her deaf child to make them feel included. 


Her background in child development drives her to understand the importance of inclusivity for her child. She wants to normalize ASL in her household and educate others to reduce stigma around hearing impairments. 


She has a large extended family who wants to be supportive, but is unsure how. Margaret wishes that there was a way for her family members to learn ASL easily. 

In her free time, Margaret's hobbies include playing Duolingo and learning new languages through exciting games. She's currently on a 3-year record streak of learning Spanish. 

The Problem

From all of our research, we narrowed our focus to this problem statement:

Margaret needs an engaging way to learn ASL because she wants to teach her children, so that they can easily communicate with and include her hearing impaired child.

By doing so, she can meet her child’s current needs. But if she doesn’t have a way to learn ASL, she may struggle to fully communicate with her hearing impaired child and runs the risk of isolating them.

Design Considerations

We created a matching game in a web browser design to allow for multiple people to play together. 

  • How might we make it easy for parents to learn ASL?

  • How might we appeal to different stages of learning?


From our research, we found that users have different ways of learning, so we wanted to create a Learning Mode and a Game Mode, which both lead to the same outcome of parents/family members learning fingerspelling, a foundational part of ASL.

  • How might we make it fun for family members?

  • How might we motivate people to continue learning ASL?


Our game mode takes into consideration options to learn solo or play with others of different difficulty levels, as well as a practice vs. timed mode, as an option for those who thrive with competition and those who prefer a leisure pace. All of which will help foster increased communication for the whole family: parents, siblings and other family members. 

  • How might we encourage users to continue to play even after an incorrect answer?


We wanted to provide visual feedback since this is typically a strength of hearing impaired people. ASL relies heavily on facial expressions, so we paired universal happy face icons and added a colored outline with labels to ensure that users could interpret correct and incorrect answers. We were careful with our language to be encouraging with "Try Again", as some children may utilize the game. 

Usability Test Results

Finding #2: Users found there was no option to leave the game before completing the game

Finding #1: Users were confused with the purpose of the start button (as game was functional without it)

Solution: Change to an EXIT button to allow users to exit the game at will

The Next Steps


Lessons Learned

In such a short timeframe like this, I learned the importance of narrowing our focus to the MVP. We didn't have time to flesh out a Learning Mode or a 2-player game. Through the research, I learned more about a different target population and their potential needs. Inclusive design is powerful and benefits not only the primary users, but has the ability to connect others as well.

Working with Developers

This learning experience taught us how to communicate with developers. Communication was essential in every piece of the process. We learned more about their limitations with their software programs, and we had to adapt our designs to accommodate within our limited time frame.

The Next Steps

If we had more time, we would have loved to develop this game further. We would have loved to build out both the solo and multi-player version so that parents can play with their children, or siblings can play against each other. We would also have loved to add in the functionality to send scores/challenge friends to play with them to encourage extended family members to play. In addition, developing out the Learning Mode to create accounts and track learning goals and progress. In Learning Mode, it'd be great to incorporate videos and hand gesture recognition to provide visual resources for the users who have different learning preferences.

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