How design can help domestic violence service providers. You might know a lot about Lara Stephenson & my work with the Social Good Outpost and how most of our clients recently have been in the domestic violence service provision space.
It’s no coincidence – my experience for the last four years has been working with domestic violence service providers across Australia, facilitating domestic violence prevention workshops for minority communities, and advising peak bodies and government on domestic violence service provision.
But how does our work with graphic and web design help aid the cause of stopping domestic and gender-based violence? Since November 2016, we’ve been working with Domestic Violence Work Aware, an organisation founded by multiple Working Women’s Centres across Queensland, the Northern Territory and South Australia. We were set with the aim of designing an inclusive, responsive website and branding that was not just sensitive of audiences who were potentially in very difficult and dangerous situations, but also accessible to culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) groups, LGBTIQ communities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and rural and regional populations.
Our work has just been entered in the Victorian Premier’s Design Awards for 2017, and as such, I thought I’d share a little bit more about what can make design accessible for service providers working with critical social issues and vulnerable populations.
1. Features centre around the needs of designing for vulnerable populations. Specifically, for individuals effected by DFV, but also, for minority groups who may be multiply-marginalised or at an intersection of violence and abuse. This might include LGBTIQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer) audiences, who may suffer not only from DFV but wider societal homophobia and may be still ‘in the closet’, hence a need to be able to quickly exit the website and also have the website use terminology which reflects their identity. This is one of our first features – using non-gendered language and inclusive design.
2. Secondly has been designing for CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse) audiences, who may be affected by racism and inaccessibility due to language, on top of experiencing DFV. The design was structured specifically around providing images and references which people can relate to, regardless of and inclusive of their cultural or ethnic background. One of the things we found to be incredibly important in a website which caters for DFV is that CALD people must be able to see themselves and feel welcomed, accepted, and understood when using the resource.
3. Aiding the accessibility for CALD individuals was the addition of a language conversion tool embedded in the website. This aided DVWA in communicating their message regardless of whether the audience spoke English or not. It also enabled communities who may not be able to read or understand English to have access to vital resources which could change how the story ends for them – on a very personal and very important note. Being able to access and read all the resources is very important for DVWA to reach these otherwise hard-to-reach populations.
4. A further design feature has been the addition of a ‘quick exit’ button, accessible on all pages of the website. Once this button is clicked, the website closes and is redirected to the Google search page. This is important on two fronts. Firstly, it is important that individuals who are experiencing violence in the home can quickly close the website in case their abuser arrives home, or checks on what they are doing. Secondly, it helps to maintain confidentiality and privacy from colleagues in the workplace, where individuals may be searching for material as DVWA is primarily promoted in workplaces.
5. The final functionality and benefit of this website is that it is an all-in-one resource, where employers, employees and anyone experiencing DFV in the workplace can access support and information. The website is both a first point of call and a pathway for ‘what’s next’ for both employers and employees. This project is driven almost entirely by the website, supported by in-person training, and therefore its design has been crucial to delivering solutions for dealing with DFV when it is experienced by those in the workforce – a service that has truly been pioneered by DVWA.