7 things i learned from wearing an eyepatch

Two years ago i put on an eyepatch in solidarity with protestors in Egypt and headed to uni.

I wasn’t pleased with how the media in Malaysia portrayed what was going on in Egypt, so i decided to be the Media. I wore an eyepatch for one week and shared stories and opinions with random curious people. Though this experience might not seem related to design, it actually taught me a lot about the role of designers and also a thing or two about behavioural theories.

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Here are the 7 things i learnt from my eyepatch experience:

1- Empathy is crucial
“If you wish to persuade me, you must think my thoughts, feel my feelings, and speak my words.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero. Being empathetic is very important when designing, specially when designing for behaviour change. While studying your target user, literally put yourself in his shoes and you’ll be amazed of how much insight you’d gain.

2- We need to focus more on Universal Design
I faced so many problems with my temporary disability, there were so many daily activities i couldn’t do because i was relying only on one eye, and most things were designed to be used by 2 eyed people, or if the disabled were considered it will be on the other end of the spectrum; designed for the blind. Take for example driving, can we redesign the side view mirrors so that the image is captured somewhere else visible to a person with one eye?

3-The difference between see, watch, vision and sight.
I felt the different meanings of seeing and watching, vision and sight. And i think it is important to note the differences in meanings between each word and how it is used by a user group you are studying.

4- Indians are very curious
Malaysia is a multiracial country, which consists of Malays, Indians and Chinese. Almost all the people who approached me on the streets were Indians, i could see many people staring at me trying to figure out what that weirdo was doing, but only indians came up and asked “whats wrong with your eye?!” This is very interesting in terms of behaviour and cultural differences. Moreover, i believe that curiosity is a designer’s most important asset. That’s where all the ‘why’ and ‘why not’s come from, so it’s also interesting in terms of design and cultural differences.

5- Pirates wear eyepatches to see better in the dark
I always thought that pirates wore eyepatches because they have lost an eye, but apparently an eyepatch is sometimes an indicator to a solution and not a problem. This dual characteristic of an object might be an interesting approach to design, though i don’t know exactly how it can be adopted or implemented.

6- The glass is half full.
Whenever someone annoyed me i’d just look away and bam they are gone! This is something i enjoyed doing to be honest. And it brings up an important question, Why do designers majorly focus on solving problems? Why don’t we amplify pros for a change? specially when designing for people with disabilities.

7- Abandon your TV
And finally, i decided to stop watching any terrible news, lame movies, stupid videos, clearly fake fb content. I don’t know how i reached this decision, but i had a long explanation about the relationship between your brain and eye(s). Give it a try, turn off your tv for a week. It’s too much information for your eyes to handle, too much data to filter in order to get facts apart from opinions. Choose and think about what your brain would want to watch, then see it with your eyes.

NB: I think posting this during Halloween -which apparently the whole world celebrates now- is something to reflect on as well.

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