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Visual Guides for Resettled Refugees [UPDATED 5/31]

A series of visual guides that help resettled refugees navigate their new world and understand activities like buying food and using an ATM.

Photo of Adria Spivack

Written by

EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

My idea is to use a set of visual guides to help resettled refugees understand the concepts and actions needed to be successful in the western world. These guides can describe simple tasks, such as emergency services, or can be used as vocational training, such as how to use programs or perform job related tasks. I have developed a form, visual language, and method for doing this with the example of buying and storing food. These guides utilize logos, symbols, and objects that can be matched with what is found in the environment, connecting the guide with the physical world or allowing it to be used as a tool to ask for help. Because these guides are mainly visual, they can be used by anyone regardless of literacy or native language. This solution is easy for resettlement agencies or community leaders to distribute and implement. By printing out the provided PDF and following a few easy steps, each guide can be folded by anyone with minimal cost. Along with this method, I am proposing to create a platform for community leaders/agencies to share and personalize guides based on their needs and, if possible, as the visual language to the environments the guides depict.

WHO BENEFITS?

This can be used for any resettled refugee anywhere and distributed by any resettlement agency, community leader, etc. The only change needed is the reference to some of the logos or place specific processes. The proposed platform is a means of sharing these guides all around the world, making those personalized changes, and requesting more guides to fill any need. (UX Map at bottom of the page).

PROTOTYPE

During the process of designing the visual guides I currently have, I constantly asked others (along with the resettlement agency) to tell me what my guides were describing. Based on their answers, I was able to develop the visual language and form. My current prototype features three booklets, each with an essential topic for understanding how to buy and store food: navigating the grocery store, using an ATM and paying for goods, and riding the bus. Additionally, I designed a hand out to be kept at home as a reference on how to store food. This is currently being used in Pittsburgh by the resettlement agency I worked with as a tool to help teach resettled refugees and as something they use in their everyday lives. The prototype resembles the final form-- a pdf that is printed doubled sided (tabloid and letter sizes) and folded a particular way. This ensures that it can be easily accessed, created, and used with the worry of extra cost or manufacturing.

FEEDBACK

In doing my project, I paired with a local resettlement agency to get feedback on my project. Throughout the process, they advised me on visual language and form. Upon showing them the final iteration (at least for now), they thought it was extremely helpful and would be very successful for them to use as a tool and for the resettled refugees to use.

SKILL SHARE (optional)

I am able to draw, prototype, strategize, and generate visuals/supporting media. I would love some advice from experts about how to expand my idea and on how to create a platform that could make sharing and generating these guides more effective and efficient. I would also love partnerships to help implement this.

TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF

I am a recent graduate of Carnegie Mellon University's Industrial Design Program in the United States. I am passionate about using design to help others and am excited to collaborate with others. I love talking about my idea and project and would love to hear any feedback!

IS THIS AN IDEA THAT YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION WOULD LIKE TO TAKE FORWARD?

  • Yes, and I am looking for a partner working with refugee communities to implement this idea.
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Attachments (3)

User_experience_map.pdf

A user experience map depicting the steps the community leader/resettlement agency must go through to access the visual guides with the platform and the steps the resettled refugee takes to use it.

Spivack_Video copy.m4v

A video depicting the problem and my solution.

Spivack_studio_posters copy.pdf

A poster depicting my process and a poster depicting the solution.

Inspired by (1)

Visual Guides

16 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of An Old Friend
Team

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Photo of Amir H. Mazrouei
Team

Interesting project!
You can add the needed words including the pronunciation using refugee's language alphabets.
Also I was thinking about having an online community or a simple mobile app where the refugees can share their own visual guides with each other. E.g. the community leaders can upload their own adapted visual guides including the similar words from their own mother tongue for each object, something like ''A Digital Picture Dictionary'': https://openideo.com/challenge/refugee-education/ideas/i-m-migrant-a-digital-picture-dictionary

Photo of Adria Spivack
Team

Thank you! Based on my research, there is a large possibility that the user is illiterate and therefore including things in their own language might be more confusing than not. The other benefit of not including any native language would be that there is no limit to who can use it. I had also thought about using an app as a platform but found that it was more unlikely for resettled refugees to have a smart phone (at least as a first phone) and I wouldn't want to limit access based on that. My other fear is that there is already so much to learn with using a smart phone that it may be too much to introduce at once or outside their scope of use. I do however want to look into creating some form of database or platform for resettlement agencies or community leaders to share or find the guides. It would also help with understanding where the gaps are and how to make the guides more useful. Thanks for your advice!

Photo of Adria Spivack
Team

Hi Hossein, I just added a platform to my idea for community leaders to share and personalize their visual guides-- building off of your comment. I would love to hear what you think!

Photo of Amir H. Mazrouei
Team

Hi Adria, the platform you mentioned would work as a R&D gate to welcome new suggestions to develop your project further, so from my point of view this is very practical and helpful.

Photo of Adria Spivack
Team

Great, thank you! Let me know if you have any other thoughts!

Photo of Shane Zhao
Team

Great to see Visual Guides make it to the Ideas Phase Adria! Have you considered how the content of the guides might adapt to contexts outside the United States? i.e. how might this approach help refugee navigate around environments where ATMs, grocery stores, and subways are not common place?

Photo of Adria Spivack
Team

I hadn't considered that yet. I believe what would have to happen is that there would need to be a database of different scenarios. That way there is still the ability to access maybe more general guides or at least guides that can apply to multiple places. It could also be a way to communicate the need for more specialized guides or pick and choose parts of guides. My original scope was applying it to the United states because there is some consistency and each wouldn't have to be entirely unique to the city. But I will work on how a system could be created to communicate with others outside the U.S. about creating those specialized guides. what type of areas exactly did you have in mind? Places with resettled refugees or refugee camps?

Photo of Adria Spivack
Team

Hey Shane, I added a bit about how you could make my idea more global. Its the two new images under explain your idea. I would love to hear what you think!

Photo of Steve Lehmann
Team

Hi Adria,

I help coordinate volunteers with World Relief Chicago - one of the main refugee resettlement agencies here - and think that this could be a very useful tool in our neighborhood. Awesome idea!

Do you have copies that you are able/willing to share? I'd love to see one developed for Chicago, and would be willing to help.

Photo of Adria Spivack
Team

Hi Steve!
Sorry for the late reply. I would love to help develop something for Chicago! I have copies of what I have designed for Pittsburgh and instructions on how to put them together. I was also considering how to add the guides into the place where they would be used and would be interested in discussing that further as well. Please let me know how you would want them sent to you or if we can work together. My email is adrialeigh@gmail.com and my linkedin account is attached to my profile. I really look forward to hearing from you!!

Photo of Sean Hewens
Team

Hi There. Cool idea. How did you decide that buying and storing food was a need faced by refugees?

Photo of Adria Spivack
Team

Thanks! When I was first talking to the resettlement agency I was working with they have me a list of things they had noticed were an issue and I found that you could tie a lot of them to the process of buying and storing food. For my project this created a good theme to work in but I believe that it can be expanded to any topic as well.

Photo of Rika Viragh
Team

Great to hear that you are doing some research! Have you gotten the chance to speak with any refugees?

Photo of Adria Spivack
Team

Unfortunately I haven't. Partially because of my schedule as a student didn't align with theirs,privacy, and etc. I mostly talked to people who worked with them or know their experiences very well.

Photo of Steve Lehmann
Team

I could also imagine a grocery store sponsoring the costs for a project like this, in return for an advertisement on the back. A win/win.