The RIT campus has a very diverse community that consists of hearing and deaf
people. Although RIT offers many sign language classes and provides interpreters across
campus, communication outside of class is still difficult. The problem we are trying to
overcome is the communication between hearing and deaf people in real-time and in
person without third-party assistance. Our solution would break down the communication
barriers. Using the best attributes of current communication products and new
technology, we are able to envision a product that would bring forth this new era of
The products we analyzed were AOL Instant Messenger, WebNote MultiChat
site, and the T-Mobile Sidekick. We choose AOL Instant Messenger because it is the
most popular chat program in the US. We choose WebNote MultiChat because it brings
new features like real-time chat editing with multiple users. The Sidekick was chosen
because it is the leading communication device available on the market today and it is
very popular among deaf students at RIT.
Product Analysis #1 (AOL Instant Messenger)
• Visibility of system status
It is important for the user to be kept informed about what the current condition of the system is so the user knows what is going on. The user is made aware of the condition of the system through feedback. AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) keeps the user updated with the system status through a variety of feedback. Most of the windows on AIM tell you what the window is about, for example when you receive a message from your friend you get your friend’s screenname displayed on top of the window.
If you want to message a user, you can select their name from your buddy list and send them a message, when the screenname is selected, it gets highlighted, which tells the user the screenname they picked to send a message to. Feedback is also achieved through sound, whenever a message is sent or received a unique sound is played (sounds are customizable by the user). The system status is displayed by the icon in the taskbar, when AIM is signed on the icon is surrounded by a blue circle and when its offline the AIM is by itself, so by looking the user can tell the status of the system.
• Match between system and the real world
It is important for the system to convey messages in languages and concepts that the user is familiar with. AIM does this pretty well by using languages and concepts that more people are familiar with. AIM uses simple English that most people can comprehend. The icons used in AIM represent everyday things in most people’s lives. When a screenname on your buddy list has an away message, a picture of a note is displayed next to the screenname, signifying that this person has...