Telecommunications Relay Service is an operator service that allows people who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, speech-disabled, and deafblind to place calls to standard telephone users. A major telephone service provider requested a research project to determine general user attitudes and perceptions of various Relay Service providers and products.
This client also wanted to understand what other influences and factors play into provider choice, while ultimately uncovering the key components and desirable features of wireless relay devices. Ultimately, the client wanted to walk away from the study knowing what they needed to do to develop a useful service for the target market.
The target market for the proposed study was quite specific, and it was critical that we were able to not only recruit participants from the deaf/hard-of-hearing community, but also identify “super respondents” who would be able to provide the client with valuable insight into Relay Services.
We basically needed to find 24 deaf or hard-of-hearing people who were passionate about placing calls to standard telephone users.
By tapping into the self-identified communities that exist online, we discovered a blog dedicated to the discussion of deaf issues as they relate to technology and communication. We found that people didn’t just read this blog but actively participated in discussing a topic they considered important.
Our experience in leveraging social networks, and our own personal relationships within the blogging community allowed us to pull off this recruit. We used the blogosphere for what it is; a hub for topic-based discussion, and a tool for screening “super respondents”. Thus, we were able to not only meet but exceed the quota of 24 participants with a vested interest in Relay Services and devices.
If it hadn’t been for the blogosphere, our client never would have gained the valuable insight from customers it needed to develop a useful service. We didn’t know exactly where to find deaf or hard-of-hearing Relay users when we started the project, but we had a great sense of how to find them.