This semester I’ve decided to reopen the topic I was dealing with in the first semester, because it still seems contemporary and relevant to explore to me. As an introduction, I would mention, that bad communication ends a lot of good things, but it also makes people’s life harder, when it comes to multilingual communication.
Multilingual communication is communication beyond the borders of languages. It implies communication between members of different linguistic groups, often not talking any language except their mother language. Therefore I find this topic extremely important in the world we live in, with approximately 6,500-7000 languages being spoken at the moment, so I chose to base my research in this direction.
In a world of increasing migration and technological progress, multilingual communication has become the rule rather than the exception. Therefore I will try to do as much research as I can on the topic of non-verbal communication, which could also be meaningful for my master thesis.
Designing visual means and non-verbal systems as an alternative to verbal communication was already a problem of some health facilities in countries in which many languages are spoken (like India), as well as the countries with a low-reading population.
There were already several projects led by the dream of a world in which languages don’t separate people, trying to design a visual language that would use universal symbols understandable to everyone. One of these attempts was to create universal health-care symbols as part of the project “Hablamos Juntos”-“We Speak Together”.
This was a USA project about designing a visual system to help the LEP population to go through health facilities without misunderstanding and stress, which also makes physicians’ job easier.
“Making signage easy to understand and eliminating language barriers is one simple way we can improve the health-care experience for everyone,” says Yolanda Partida, director of Hablamos Juntos, an organization established in 2001 to develop practical tools to overcome language barriers to health care.
“There are limits to how many languages can be presented effectively on wayfinding signage,” explains Partida. “Universal symbols offer an alternative to bilingual or trilingual signage that can quickly become useless with unreadable font sizes.”
Communication problems continue to grow in every country with immigrant and migrant populations. The growing problem is not only noticeable in the healthcare system, but also in bureaucracy. In designing such a system, its implementation plays an important role as well. How to adjust the symbols to already existing ones, which criterium is more important when it comes to shaping: clarity or creativity? Each of these factors should be considered when thinking about these problems, which opens a sequence of questions, that will be questioned in my next blog entries.