less unicorns, more artists

A few newsletters back I lamented about how, in the midst of a pandemic, there’s no easy way to find artists beyond the unicorns and the who’s who of Deaf and disability arts.

We needed something to bridge the gulf between us, something to help us find each other and allow us to continue communicating, networking and collaborating from our homes.

Also, we needed to expand who gets the opportunities available in the arts so that our sector can grow. We need less unicorns and more artists.

That’s why, in November 2020, we launched Network Connector.

The goods news is that 96 of you signed up. The bad news is that, unless you’re one of those people who derives satisfaction from staring at spreadsheets – it’s not very useful or interactive. As a database, you can see yours and others profiles, but you can’t talk to each other, nor is it very creative or inspiring.

The inspiring part is that we identified a need and 96 of you agreed.

With a team of UX students at U of T, we reached out to Network Connector members to find out why you signed up. We knew the network needed to be better as a tool but we didn’t want to make any assumptions about how, so we asked.

Once we listened to some of the experiences our members were having with Network Connector, the students created “personas”—imaginary characters with names, traits, hobbies, likes, dislikes and feelings who represent real stories and emotions expressed by Network Connector members. When we’re designing with stories of lived experience of difference at the center, personas help us recognize ourselves in the solutions we’re trying to build.

You can watch this presentation to see one of the personas we created and a prototype of how Network Connector could better facilitate that person’s journey.

A prototype is a quick way to illustrate an idea and get feedback from your community before doing all the work and spending all the money to build the actual thing only to find out nobody wants it!

We would love to hear from you! What do you think about this prototype? Is this a tool that you would use? If not, tell us why! You can send us your thoughts anonymously here.

A huge shout out of gratitude to Camilla (Wenhui) Peng, Marviel Mercado, Sonal Pala, Stacey Morton & Giselle Wenban for their hard work on this project and to Network Connector members who contributed their stories and valuable feedback to building this prototype.