Multimedia Interfaces

Vector consultancy has developed on online platform to share information quickly with the Somali community on a large scale.

The Problem

Currently it is difficult for clinics in Saint Cloud to distribute information to Somali patients. In our experience working with hospitals, clinics, schools, counties and small businesses we have seen challenges finding a medium for distributing informational materials. For personalized information, facilities can use interpreters or cultural navigators. This is perfect for addressing situations one by one. When distributing information on a large scale, however, there is a problem. Currently facilities throughout Saint Cloud try to reach the Somali community by passing out fliers, translating pages on their website or sending automated telephone calls.  The problem is that few Somali speakers can read in Somali and automated telephone calls are next to impossible to organize and do not provide a visual.

Current Means of Communication

Faciities currently spread general information via written communication, telephone communication or both. These are only partially effective and each have their own shortcomings

Written Communication

Automated Telephone Communication

Voicemails and automated calls solve some of these problems. There is no reading required, which means all Somali speakers can listen to the information. The problem arises when there is a large amount of information to sort through. You can only organize voicemails linearly. You have to listen to a message to identify it and if you are looking for one message out of twenty, the search becomes cumbersome.

Written communication is a direct translation from English. The problem with this is that very few people who speak Somali can read it. This is due to the short life of the official Somali language. Somali was first officially written down in the 1970s and from the early 1990s, it has no longer been taught in public schools due to the continuing civil war. In addition to this, many Somalis now in the United States grew up outside of Somalia. Their formal education is likely to have been in Swahili, English, Arabic or other languages of the countries to which the refugees fled. The bottom line is that translated documents do not work. From community wide observations conducted by Vector Consultancy, only around 20% of Somali adults can read in Somali, and due to the lack of normalized written Somali communication, only 5% of Somali adults read Somali on a daily basis.

The Solution 

Vector Consultancy has solved this problem by creating a graphic multimedia system for organizing information. We have developed an online multimedia interface that allows Somali speakers to navigate audio and video content without reading. This overcomes all of the challenges related to written and automated telephone communication of information to the Somali community. It reaches both those who read and those who can’t, and it presents information in an organized way that consumers can easily refer back to in the future.