By Kathleen Sanchez
Technical Communication student My (pronounced "Me") Van was one of the winners of the 2021 Big Design scholarship this past spring.
Big Design is a UX-focused nonprofit organization based in Dallas that puts a spotlight on future design leaders. The goal of the Big Design scholarship is to support students who are interested in user experience and design.
My's project was titled "Examining the Applications of Specific Color Combinations on User Interface Components to Determine How These Affect Accessibility and Usability Among Specially Abled Individuals."
My wanted to address a design problem people face that she could empathize with. Her idea started because she likes pastel and muted colors on websites, but she realized that the combinations of colored text on colored backgrounds are not visually accessible to everyone--including herself. She found that "it's easier to be involved with the process" if a researcher is passionate about something that also affects them.
The goal of My's research project is to look at websites with specific color combinations to assess whether they provide enough accessibility for people with visual impairments. The project is currently a work in progress. My plans to begin user testing with participants with near-sightedness before including a wider range of visual impairments.
She hopes to continue her research by conducting tests with more participants and creating a prototype plan for scalability. "I want to start with a smaller testing pool and eventually bring it nationally or globally," she said. "There needs to be accessibility in technology in order to serve everybody."
My is currently employed as a copywriter and designer at Vaso Group, an e-commerce brand agency that helps companies sell their products on e-commerce websites such as Amazon. She started as an intern this past summer, and her employer recently offered her a full-time position.
In the future, My plans to fully transition into a UX career. She is interested in working for creative agencies that handle visual content and applying her skills in UX writing, design, and research.
My's advice for tech comm students: get to know your professors and see what work they do outside of teaching that is related to your field of interest. My said that her mentor, Dr. Samantha Cosgrove, "reached out and encouraged me to apply for the scholarship" and helped her in the process.
My also recommends being active on LinkedIn and looking for any fun opportunities or new trends in the industry.