Multiple screens showing the final design of Access Carolina

Access Carolina


Fostering a more accessible campus at the University of North Carolina through detailed tracking and real-time updates



UX/UI Designer



4 UNC students

  • 1 project manager
  • 2 systems designers
  • 1 UX/UI designer



Adobe XD, Adobe Illustrator, Figma



On my 4-person team, I was the sole UX/UI designer and was responsible for defining design objectives, wireframing, prototyping, and developing visual assets. The entire team participated in research and persona development to build a shared understanding of our users before focusing on our respective roles.


The University of North Carolina struggles to provide equal access to campus facilities, creating barriers for UNC community members with mobility concerns.

As a public university, the University of North Carolina (UNC) must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, accessibility on campus is threatened by decades-old, retrofitted buildings, insufficient accessible entrances, and out-of-service elevators and bathrooms. These accessibility problems prevent students, faculty, and campus visitors from planning efficient, worry-free routes through campus.


The team utilized a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods to refine our understanding of UNC’s accessibility problems.

We kicked off our research efforts with our own take on the “get out of the building” strategy—walking around campus. We visited multiple campus buildings to search for signage indicating accessible entrances and to test automatic doors, ramps, and elevators. This hands-on approach helped us to find out just how many buildings lacked basic accessibility accommodations, especially functioning elevators.

We were surprised by our discoveries and wanted to gather additional data from the broader UNC community. To do so, we created a survey to gauge awareness of accessibility on campus and summarized our key findings:

To dive deeper into these issues, we needed to speak with those most affected by the lack of accessibility on campus. Although we were only able to secure one student willing to be interviewed, their perspective as a wheelchair user revealed specific pain points related to a lack of responsiveness from campus maintenance and the impact of an inaccessible campus on academic performance.


Using learnings from the research phase, the team developed two user personas: Adam, a UNC student, and Miranda, a visitor to UNC’s campus.

Adam, our primary persona, reflected the experiences shared by our interviewee. Although Adam represented our main user group, we knew from our survey that the UNC community is more than just students. There were many groups we considered, but we prioritized campus visitors so that our solution would still provide value for users without as much familiarity with the campus. With that, our secondary user persona, Miranda, was created. 


An analysis of existing products revealed a gap that could be leveraged to achieve our three core design objectives.

After connecting with our users through research and personas, I set three objectives for our solution:

  1. Track accessible facilities on campus
  2. Provide a way to plan stress-free campus journeys
  3. Establish a clear system of communication between users and campus maintenance

To determine the best way to achieve these objectives, I explored existing products that focused on accessibility, navigation, or college campuses.

Competitive analysis

Seeing the similarities in these products, as well as the gaps in what they offered, I was able to refine the vision for our solution. While our solution could leverage the interactive maps and community reporting features found in existing products, we had a unique opportunity to combine real-time accessibility tracking and navigation in a UNC-specific context.


Wireframes of our proposed solution centered around detailed route planning features that would help users navigate accessible facilities with ease.

With a clear design direction set, I visualized our solution in a series of sketches before seeking feedback from four potential users. 

Based on users’ feedback, I saw an opportunity to better solve for the route planning pain point identified during research. I enhanced route directions with visuals and detailed arrival information and provided additional context about indoor facilities. These changes were reflected in the final set of wireframes:


Access Carolina’s visual design was driven by the need for a clean, simple, and practical UI.

My goal for the visual design was to stay consistent with the UNC suite of apps while still prioritizing the distinct purpose of our solution. I utilized colors and typography from UNC’s official brand guidelines and incorporated simple icons and imagery to keep the focus on key accessibility information.

Style tile for Access Carolina


Presenting Access Carolina, a tool to enable accessible navigation uniquely designed for the UNC community.

After 8 weeks, the team introduced our plan to address accessibility problems on campus. The final solution was comprised of features derived from our three core design objectives:

1. Track accessible facilities on campus

1. Track accessible facilities on campus

Flexible log in options connect users with an interactive map containing detailed accessibility information for all on-campus locations.

2. Provide a way to plan stress-free campus journeys

Route planning functionality highlights accessible streets, ramps, and entrances to help users chart safe paths through campus.

3. Establish a clear system of communication between users and campus maintenance

A live feed and community-driven reporting provide insight into conditions on campus, allowing campus maintenance to respond to and resolve incidents as they arise. 

Users can track their engagement with these features through personalized profile stats and recent activity.


As the project concluded, the importance of inclusive design emerged as a key takeaway. 

Although this project spanned months, it felt like we just barely scratched the surface of accessible technology. If we had had more time, I would’ve loved to explore features like speech-to-text that could’ve made our solution even more inclusive. However, this project illuminated how designing with accessibility at the forefront benefits everyone, not just members of a specific group. I completed this project months after I developed an interest in UX, and my excitement for the field only grew once I had the opportunity to envision how design could help tackle important issues in my community.

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