Learning new languages

It could be argued that collaboration is most valuable when you work with someone totally different to you. That person or group of people is able to contribute something alternative, sometimes opening-up new considerations or questions. They can bring new knowledge, understanding and experiences, and often with that comes new terminology…

The SH24 team includes sexual health clinicians and designers – which is key if we want to create something new that works and feels relevant. However when ‘strawmen’ post it notes and ‘blueprints’ get thrown in a room with ‘HA’s’ ‘MSM’s and ‘EHC’s’, a bit of patience is needed. All those blank looks need enlightening before the conversation can move on.

We designers are learning to translate MSM to, men who have sex with men and understand that health advisor and emergency hormonal contraception have nifty abbreviations.

But much more than understanding new terms and definitions; an understanding of how we have each been trained and how professional experiences have taught us to think or process things differently, is undoubtedly necessary if a meeting is to make any progress.

We are continuously learning how to best bring together our user insights, design processes and rigorous evidence based clinical evaluation findings.

Language is also a key area of the SH24 work in terms of working out the most effective way to communicate to users online.

Southwark and Lambeth hosts hundreds of mother tongues, therefore we need to come up with a solution that enables as many people as possible to access information on SH24. This may mean using almost universal languages e.g. icons or well-recognised symbols like arrows, ticks and crosses.

Overall we know that both internal and external communications need to be accessible, empathetic and enabling.