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3 March, 2016

Usher Syndrome Interactive Documentary

Posted in : Web Projects on by : Rob Tags: , , ,

The Usher Syndrome Interactive Documentary is the thesis project I produced when finishing my master’s degree in Interactive Media from Quinnipiac University.

Usher Syndrome is the leading cause of deaf blindness. Living with this condition is something most people cannot fathom. If someone were to go blind, they would naturally rely more on their hearing. If they went deaf, they would rely more on their sight. Losing both hearing and sight would seem to be almost incapacitating, and yet for the thousands of people around the world living with Usher Syndrome, it is a daily reality. This interactive experience is designed to educate the user about Usher Syndrome and its main components and introduce the user to stories from people living with Usher. These stories give a window to their daily lives and show that, despite their limitations, they are just like everyone else. They have hobbies and careers, friends and pets. They are living their lives.

The concept for an interactive documentary came about through some other online projects I came across, most notably “Snowfall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek” by the NY Times and “The Reykjavik Confessions” by the BBC.

The project is build on a WordPress platform for simplicity of adding new content. The visual appearance is a custom template based on a blank base template. The front page, RP demo and hearing loss pages are static pages that I coded to contain the information for the scrolling interface using the Skrollr Javascript libary and other information. This allows for simplicity with updating content because I can make the changes within the WordPress interface instead of having to work on the template directly.

The stories index is coded to use the featured image along with the title and a custom synopsis to populate the information. On the individual stories I also use a custom field to add other viewpoints, such as the mother’s perspective in the artist story.

I decided to use a scrolling interface primarily to move the user through one specific part of the experience: a demo of what it’s like having Retinitis Pigmentosa, a progressive narrowing of the eyesight. I set it up to fade between a series of images that showed the change in peripheral vision. I also animated the text to fade in and out along the way. The keyframing ability within the Skrollr functionality made it pretty easy once I understood the process for getting it going.


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