(these)abilities L.A.B. #2.1: Grab Lab (Series 2 Session 1)

Posted by: theseabilities | in Projects | 6 years, 6 months ago | Comments

Our design thinking & prototyping workshops that tackle the most pressing, significant & interesting problems in various Disability communities whilst gaining new skills, knowledge and friends regardless of abilities.

Essentially, Lowering All Barriers [L.A.B.]!

In our second series, we are working with Grab (formerly GrabTaxi) to turn what we know as “Corporate Social Responsibility” into something more: An Inclusive Business.

“You don’t have to go out of your way to create social impact, when it can be done in your own backyard.. and for corporates, funds meant for Social Impact need not be gone once donated! There can be ROIs (return on investments) with a double-bottom line!”

– Ken Chua, Director of (these)abilities

Evolving Corporate Social Responsibility into an Inclusive Business is a consultancy service that (these)abilities extends to corporates, and Grab (being South East Asia’s second largest start-up) has the foresight & dynamism to be our first client & partner!

What is an Inclusive Business?:

An inclusive business is one where a business offers, or extends, its product offerings to include Persons with Disabilities so that they and their friends, family members and loved ones can enjoy the same products & services. No more need for specialised, costly solutions that also require double planning when a Person with Disability is involved.

Think of booking a flight or a cab, watching a movie, enjoying family mobile plan discounts, or even the simplest things like shampoo and soap! These can all be inclusive so that a family can make 1 decision and 1 purchase.

Or even better! Persons with Disabilities could make those purchases independently and enjoy a dignified life that doesn’t require help at every step of the way. It is Empowering!

(these)abilities x Grab:

In (these)abilities L.A.B. Series 2, we are partnering Grab to make the “ride-hailing” experience more accessible to deaf and Visually-impaired users, where suggestions to make the app more accessible would be prototyped up to 80% completion to present to Grab. From there, Grab will take a serious look at the prototypes with a real possibility of incorporating the suggestions in their Grab App and general service offering.

As a potential mainstream mode of transport still in its formative years, it could be THE way of transportation for the Visually-impaired who currently don’t dare, or find it too difficult to explore places that they are unfamiliar with because of the need to navigate new travel routes on their own. And for the hearing-impaired, we don’t want them to miss out on all the fun conversations we have with taxi uncles during the trip. Now THAT is an Inclusive Business!

What is “ride-hailing”?

Ride-hailing is the act of hailing a taxi or car. In the case of ride-hailing apps, it is the entire process from opening up the mobile application, to reaching your destination.

And if we took a detailed look at a single ride-hailing experience, there are multiple touchpoints: Getting notified of a price surge, booking a ride, locating & identifying your ride, payment, rating the driver and more! These are all things we may take for granted, but are actually barriers for Persons with Disabilities in enjoying such a service.

(these)abilities L.A.B. #2.1: Grab Lab (Series 2 Session 1):

With a new series comes new faces, experiences and knowledge! In the first of 8 sessions for Series 2, we invited deaf and visually-impaired friends to the design team, amongst others!



It was important that all participants regardless of abilities were able to understand & empathise with our Friends with Disabilities right before anything got underway.

So we set them off with a simple exercise of doing a storyboard of their journey from a designated Point A to B, being detailed and expanding on all the touchpoints they could identify with along the way.

(Original Journey in Pink, Considerations for Visually-impaired in Purple. Done by Radyamansyah.)

THEN! We got them to re-look their travel journey, imagining they had lost their sense of sound and/or sight. Many were surprised with how much more cumbersome their journey would have been if that were the case! A great empathy exercise.

(Original Journey in Blue, Considerationd for the Deaf in Red. Done by Taralyn.)


We then got our participants to explore all the technologies deaf and visually-impaired individuals use in their daily grind, and that were actually accessible to everyone!

They include VoiceOver and screen magnification features within an iPhone, and the equivalents in Android and Windows smartphones.

Participants were made to complete simple tasks using those features, without their sight across iOS and Android handsets. There was a marked quality in the VoiceOver feature that edged it over the Talkback feature (Android’s VoiceOver equivalent).

("All-iPhone Table" Participants trying out VoiceOver.)

Not surprisingly, 85% of our participants were iPhone users, but more than 90% of them had never explored those features on their phone. They felt that it was awesome that a single device could cater to such diverse needs, and were that much prouder to own an iPhone! (*Remember what an Inclusive Business is, from above?)

We shared with them that because the iPhone catered to visually-impaired users with features like VoiceOver, that it became THE phone that visually-impaired users had to have.

And that apps that utilised the flashlight for mobile notifications were extremely useful for the Deaf.

The Future of Transportation:

As ride-hailing becomes a more mainstream mode of transportation, we felt it was a good time to take a step back and re-imagine what the Future of Transportation would look like, especially one that was accessible to Persons with Disabilities.

This was done using a design methodology from Stanford’s d.school known as “I Like.. I Wish.. What If..” and was applied across all modes of transportation, both existing and futuristic!

Although ride-hailing is rapidly developing into a mainstream mode of transport, it is still in its formative years which is why (these)abilities is especially interested in shaping its definition to be one that was accessible and would lead the way in promoting an inclusive society through transport services.


Grab Simulation:

After being inspired by what the Future of Transport would look like for Persons with Disabilities, we looked towards focusing our inspiration in making Grab more future-ready! Whilst our participants thought up ways to incorporate future-ready ideas into the Grab App, we had deaf friend, Alfred, show us how he uses ride-hailing apps.

He cited the explicit use of the “Notes” function in the Grab App was extremely useful and that made Grab the more user-friendly ride-hailing option in Singapore. He was however, not aware of many of the other features on the app like scheduling multiple drop-offs & the associated costs because not enough deaf friends used the app to know about it and shared amongst their peers.


Wrap Up:

We concluded the session with a round table sharing on deafness, blindness, transport and Grab. Many participants left the session having peered a little bit deeper into the worlds of deafness and blindness, as well as being much more comfortable interacting and striking conversations with our Friends with Disabilities. They are humans, after all, and also new found friends!!


Many of the participants will be coming back for Session 2 and you can come for future sessions too! Like us on Facebook (facebook.com/theseable, or search for “Theseabilities”) to be updated on upcoming sessions that you can attend!

*And if you’d like a second opinion on our (these)abilities L.A.B. sessions….

Jing Xin, one of our participants also wrote her reflections on Session 1, which you can check out here: https://medium.com/@jingxin/these-abilities-lab-2-with-grab-session-1-empathy-and-define-b4392068a8ee#.t4z9bdhi2



Currently unrated


Get social with us