To comply with the non-disclosure agreement, I have omitted confidential information and changed the names of the participants.


How might we design Hulu to be more accessible for people with special needs when it comes to discovering and/or viewing content?


As part of the Design for Community Change class, we were given a challenge by Hulu. We were divided into groups of 4 students and each group was assigned to a Senior Designer from Hulu.


Fall 2018

Research and data gathering: 6 weeks
Concept proposal and user testing: 6 weeks


Stephanie Hawken, Sarah Sathavipat, Douglas Dean

Mentor - Hulu designer

Jenee Jernigan

My role

Team Lead – Project Manager


Sketch, Adobe Illustrator/Photoshop, Figma, InVision, Google Slides, Slack


What does accessibility truly mean?

Who are our users?
What are they trying to accomplish?
What kind of problems do they encounter?

As designers we are taught the value of making our designs accessible, but we became immediately aware that we didn’t have a great understanding of what it truly meant to be disabled and use digital products. When we were handed the brief by Hulu we realized that “accessibility” is a very broad term and that if we were to create something meaningful, we would have to narrow our scope significantly. Each of us decided to conduct our own research and share it on a google doc in order to brainstorm and identify a problem.

Defining the target

After doing secondary researches and brainstorming we decided to focus on visual impairment only. One fact stood out. As found on the American Foundation for the Blind: “People with difficulty seeing are over 31% less likely to report connecting to the Internet at home, work, or school and are over 35% less likely to use a computer at home than people without disabilities.” This is particularly impactful as visually impaired people make up 14% of the world’s total population.


Objectives of these interviews 

  • Observe how each participant enrolls or engages with Hulu and direct competitors
  • Understand what specific issues each participant is facing with their disability when browsing through the service
  • Collect user expectations or desires for settings and affordances that would improve their experience

From these interviews we wanted to pin point the main issues that could potentially be solved during sign up/onboarding.


How can the sign up/onboarding experience be more tailored to each individual included people with disabilities?

We conducted in-house interviews with three participants. By doing this, we would get a better sense of their environment and the set ups they use to watch online streaming. Each interview lasted about 90 minutes. We had them perform different tasks one at a time on Hulu on different devices, and we also watched them interact with Hulu’s competitors, mainly Netflix.

"How can the sign up/onboarding experience be more tailored to each individual included people with disabilities?"

How they see the world and Hulu

We wanted to really understand their challenges, so we used a simulation app called Aira Vision Sim.

Stargardt's disease

Retinitis Pigmentosa


Gathering insights

Common issues

From these interviews we gathered recurrent issues and we found 4 main categories:

  • The size of the font is too small

  • There isn’t enough contrast

  • There is a lack of settings

  • Difficulty in navigation

Top insights

  • Visually impaired users should be able to control the size, font, and color of captions and text, even if it takes up half of the screen.

“I don’t care how big the captions are as long as I can read them. I find the emphasis is placed on visuals, which is great for people who can see well but for someone like me it can make finding what I am looking for very hard.”

  • Users who don’t have total vision loss still want to be able to control the service manually and not with their voices.

“I want to have more control over adjusting the size of the font. I don’t really need or use voice control or a screen reader, I just want to be able to read the text.”

  • Despite people with vision impairment feeling like they aren’t heard, they are capable and eager to learn or create solutions for the challenges they face.

“I think my life is basically defined by how much I can adapt to things and how much things can adapt to me.”

"I don’t care how big the captions are as long as I can read them."

Exclusion and adaptation

We recognize that people with visual impairments sit on a spectrum and according to the level of their impairment, they have individualistic specific needs in accessing and watching content online. However, the web primarily addresses those who sit at the extreme (opposite) ends of the spectrum which excludes everybody else. Our participants usually felt that they had to adapt to technology versus technology adapting to them. They are very creative due to the fact that they always have to find ways or work around to make things work. We also noticed that they were extremely calm while doing the tasks and did not show any sign of frustration. We then presented our findings to Hulu before working on a solution. We realized that it might be a hard challenge to tackle but we accepted that this was a great opportunity to step out of the box and rework everything we knew about design standards.

"We realized that it might be a hard challenge to tackle but we accepted that this was a great opportunity to step out of the box and rework everything we knew about design standards."

Prototype development

Our solution empowers people with visual impairments to tailor their experience based on their needs by providing customized accessibility features.

How our concept would work

Features would be embedded throughout the sign-in process and would also appear in the user’s profile manager. By enabling these features throughout the entire Hulu interface, this would facilitate and centralize user’s needs in one seamless experience.


Our first design decisions were informed by our research and the data we’ve collected. We tested our prototype with our 3 participants and gathered feedback before iterating and doing more user testing.

Feedback I gathered after testing our 1st prototype with Alison

We included a button on the page introducing accessibility features because the text was a bit jarring for people who aren’t interested in accessibility.

Once in the Accessibility feature Sign up mode, we decided not to use any gradient color based on user feedback.

We moved the voice activation icon consistently at the top of each page which would allow screen readers to see it first.

On the slider, users wanted to see a change in font size when moving the slider. Also we realized that not all users know where they sit on the vision spectrum.

We wanted to create a solution that was out of the box but was also feasible and something that once we handed it off to Hulu, could be implemented in some way. Our solution communicates to someone with visual impairment that there are accessibility features. We included an accessibility features option on the landing page as a new feature. We explored pop-up screens and modals but with research we learned that these can’t be read by screen readers. On screen 2, we wanted to make the night mode accessible at any time because some users use external softwares which have the night mode ON already such as Zoomtext, and some others use the night mode from their mac OS.

Current Hulu page

Our solution

Current Hulu page

Our solution

Current Hulu page

Our solution

Areas for further study

There is a large segment of users who have visual impairments but aren’t blind

We learned that most digital services are designed for extremes: for people who are able to see, or for people who have severe to total loss of vision. This leaves a large segment of the user base with moderate to severe vision loss generally unaccommodated for. An investment in understanding the unique needs of this demographic will surely be a beneficial opportunity for Hulu in the long term.

Customizing the Hulu experience based on various disabilities.

Our research explored people with visual disabilities but our concept leaves room to incorporate the needs of people with other disabilities. It is not an easy task but understanding how an interface or experience could adapt based on various disabilities is an interesting and valuable design challenge.