Sunbury and Cobaw Community Health

Re-design technology, systems, and spaces so teleconferencing works for people with disability.

Boilover's unique approach to collaborating opened up the opportunities teleconferencing offers people with disability and exposed the deficiencies of systems and technology that stand in the way.
Forced into lockdown by Covid 19, Boilover Inclusive Performance Ensemble continued working and rehearsing online. I initiated research into their lived experience to find out what works and doesn't work in this new environment.


User research


Sound design

Interaction design


Carmen Maddison

Producer - Boilover Inclusive Performance Ensemble

Family / Carers

Boilover Performance Ensemble

What people want to do

Boilover members

Being online lets us share what it's like being in lockdown and support each other.

The group's a big part of people's identity and sense of self, so staying connected is essential.

We keep our skills up, keep active and keep a routine.

Screens make concentrating easier because there aren't all the distractions like in real life.

Going out can be stressful, so I like being online at home.

My adult son gets to be independent and on his own with his friends.

Family & carers

Our young adult children feel our stress. When they're happy hanging out online, my mental health improves and vice versa.

When everything's working, I get some time to myself.

Our young adult children feel our stress. When they're happy hanging out online, my mental health improves and vice versa.

When everything's working, I get some time to myself.

What gets in people's way?

Accessible design.
A systems approach.

Observation, user journeys, and service mapping exposed the relationships between environments, organizational systems, technology, and information that make it harder for people to participate.

Intersecting systems affect how things get done, costs, relationships, and success.


Build knowledge & problem awareness.

The Accessible Tele-conferencing Toolkit.

The Accessible Teleconferencing Toolkit is an online resource—built by the community for the community. People living with disabilities, carers, and support workers can discover tools and methods to improve telecommunication experiences in different situations

"It'd be amazing if people didn't have to go through the trial and error we went through? Like, some sort of guide."
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I can't understand what people are saying.
People can't hear me.
Communicate non-verbally.
Streamlining meetings and reminders.
Things to look out for & questions to ask to make sure everything's working fine for people.
Identify technology needs with these questions.
Can't find Accessibility settings for Zoom, Teams, Google, Facetime?
Hear better.
When I move around the room, people can't hear me.
Setting up spaces to reduce cognitive load.
Background noise interferes with my app.


Describe situations and problems that people need to solve. Terms like cognitive, hearing, vision, and mobility aren't descriptive.


Refining UX writing and language: Collect search terms people use on this resource. Build categories & descriptions from the end users' mental models and the language they use.

Clearer conversations.

Spatial audio.

Improve clarity and reduce cognitive load during multi-person conversations.

Audio spotlight.

Let people choose who they want to hear better in group conversations.

Use audio mnemonics to tell people you aren't coping.


In situations where there's lots of excitement and talking, verbal instructions add noise and cognitive load.

Hey everyone
AUDIO #1 — "Hey everyone"
You're muted
AUDIO #2 — "You're muted"
You've Been Un-muted
AUDIO #3 — "You've been un-muted"
The melodic shape is based on a siren, gently drawing attention.
It contains a range of frequencies for people who hear a particular frequency range.
There's enough space between repeats not to be alarming.
Instead, it gently becomes more dissonant to elevate urgency.
AUDIO #2 and #3
Audio mnemonics, symbols, and haptics ensure users are aware of changed software states such as being unmuted or when someone has remote control of their device.

Translate gestures into expressive audio emojis.

People who are non-verbal often use gestures like thumbs up or down to communicate. However, this binary YES / NO approach doesn't express the emotional intent and nuance expressed through tone of voice and body language.


Sounds provide feedback to confirm the person's intent and underlying feelings have been communicated.

Encourage clarification

The feelings and intent generated by gesture and audio variations of "yes" or "no" encourage clarification.


Audio emojis restore the tonal indicators of feeling and intent found in speech.

Remove confirmation bias

The deeper understanding of the intent behind 'words' counters confirmation bias created by closed questions and the binary responses they promote.

Next steps

It takes a village.

This data gives disability organizations the evidence to demand more support and resources.

It shows governments, tech, disability organizations, and business what they need to change so disabled people can effortlessly navigate the challenges of teleconferencing.


Get in touch for a deep dive into this data and our roadmap.