Zaid Al-Dabbagh & Andrew Peterson – Cross-cultural UX @ UX New Zealand 2017


(audience applauds) – So my name is Zaid, and this is Andrew, my colleague. We’re also both co-founders of Morph which is an experience engine which is going through
the Te Papa incubator. So apparently UX is a
Wellington-based agency so we do a bit of UI, UX. My background is actually
in software development and I was just, a couple
years ago I was so intrigued about, I just realized
I forgot this, sorry. I was so intrigued about user experience and ever since three or four years ago embraced it in my practices. And I’ll be blogging about this on Optimal Workshop very soon. So today I wanna talk to you about culture values and experiences. And I wanna address the challenge of designing for an evolving audience that speaks different languages, comes from different backgrounds, and on the other side of the scale, is to ensure your designs are appealing, relevant, and non-offensive. So how did we get here? Why is this important to me? So, ChangeMakers. About a year ago I got approached by one of the board
members from ChangeMakers to see how we could collaborate on developing their
refugee services portal. So ChangeMakers, I’ll just tell you a bit about ChangeMakers,
they’re a rights-based NGO representing 14 refugee
background communities in Wellington. And basically, Ali, who’s
one of the board members, approached me and said, okay, can we collaborate on developing this refugee support portal? So the vision for the portal was to ensure that New Zealanders
from refugee backgrounds participated fully in New Zealand life through community development,
research and advocacy. And the key objectives for the project were to provide refugees
clear pathways and information about available services. Because what would happen is that, a refugee family would arrive and then they would
approach a service provider or health institution, and
they would get turned away. Or the other challenge would be not knowing what services
are available for them. In addition to making
information available to community development
practitioners and social workers, so those people who are working on the grounds and volunteers. So, when Andrew and I sat down and had a chat about the project, we had some preconceived ideas about how it’s going to go really and just the refugee status
in Wellington, at least. And the first thing that
we had thought about or we had perceived was that all refugees went through a
similar settlement process. And secondly, the majority
of refugees in New Zealand were of Syrian background because of the media hype, I guess. And the third thing that, language-wise, the biggest obstacle to
settlement in New Zealand. And the fourth thing was, there was a lack of support channels. And finally that whatever solution we were designing or building
was going to be self-driven so a refugee would sit
on this great portal and access the information they needed. So we decided to do some research. And so what you see here is
some statistics from MBIE, that’s the Ministry of Business
Innovation and Employment, and what we discovered
actually over the past 10 years is that a high percentage of refugees actually came from South
America and Southeast Asia as opposed to how it’s perceived
in the media, you know, that all refugees are Syrian. But to be fair, there was an influx in the past couple of years. So being a migrant myself, who fled the Gulf War in Iraq 25 years ago along with my parents and siblings. I have had a fair share
of challenges to overcome in migrating to this beautiful country. However, I knew the journey of a refugee was very different today. So, this is quite interesting, so both Andrew and I agreed
that times have changed. So if you look at this photo, the top part is actually a
photo of refugees fleeing in World War II, and on the other hand, a contrasting image of Syrian refugees fighting over power points
to charge their devices so they can stay in touch
with family and loved ones. And to me, the second image
actually stuck with me because when you think
refugees, you think, oh, they must be, you know, all they’re thinking about is
food and shelter and so forth but technology’s actually, has become a critical need, just as much as water, food, and shelter. So prior to commencing the projects, ChangeMakers provided us some prototypes and some requirements documentation. You know how they look, you know they’re usually
20, 30 pages long. But we felt like we
really needed to reach out to the users and the actual refugees to learn a bit more about
what their needs were. Who are these refugees, are
they really all Syrians? So some of the questions we
wanted answered was that: How is the journey of a refugee different to that of a migrant? Where do refugees come from
and under what schemes? What support channels
do they have access to? And so on, other questions
we had of course. So, we set out to organize a series of workshops, initially
with the ChangeMakers team and later on with a wider user group which included, of course, refugees. And the key objective was to learn more about the difficulties
faced by former refugees in finding out about and accessing refugee services in Wellington, and how it can be improved. So this is a photo of one of the workshops that was held in collaboration
with ChangeMakers. It was really insightful
and very difficult. And I’ll let Andrew share
his thoughts later on when we come to the languages section. Partly because, we had four groups. So the first was former
refugees, obviously. We had community leaders
who are also involved in supporting these refugees. We had service providers, both from government agencies and NGOs and finally research students
from Victoria University. And we discovered, so we basically had three activities in that particular workshop that you saw. We had a brainstorming session and kind of one-on-one discussions with the participants. And one of the key
findings that we discovered was that there was actually a lot of, people suffered from emotional stress and that was due to resettlement wars, political and religious oppression, and that had a great impact on the people. And that is actually, in both prior to a
conflict, during, and after, so it’s not just, okay, the
conflict happens, and then, it’s actually quite
life-changing, to say the least. So we looked at some stats just to kinda learn a bit more about, you know, the
status of the refugees, what sort of profiles we have. And what we learned is actually over 85% of refugees
arriving in New Zealand fall into two categories. The first is women at risk, and the second fall under
the protection scheme. Hence, it demonstrates
that whatever solution we were designing had to
provide support services for those two disadvantaged groups. – Language. It was really apparent while
going through this workshop what a challenge language
is for some people. In my group, we had a Chinese lady and I have never struggled so much to communicate with someone before. Her understanding of
English was very limited. Even when we were using
a Google translation app that translated into Chinese characters, there were still struggles. Most of the time she couldn’t even answer or her friend, who was
bilingual, had to translate. This really showed me, who, I’m from Red River, what a huge struggle
it is to be a refugee. Not only do you have to leave
your home and your friends and everything you know and be placed in a country that has own cultural norms and ways that you have to learn, but on top of that then having to learn a brand new language just
so that you can communicate shows just how much
refugees have to go through to integrate into New Zealand society. But as New Zealand is now their home, they should be made to
feel like New Zealanders. They should feel like they’re one of us and that they belong. What this means is that the
portal that we are designing must allow the refugees to find themselves within New Zealand so that they can access the support services without the need for other people’s help. Another key finding that
I thought was eye-opening was the fact that literacy
was also a key obstacle in how refugees access available services. And having to rely on other things to carry out what we’d consider trivial, and therefore, with that
finding we discovered, no, it’s not always about
making translations available. – All right, so I went
back to the stats again to kind of delve a bit deeper into the literacy issues, because it was raised by one
of the participants saying that it’s not just making
translations available, some people actually can’t read and write which I didn’t really
think about, to be honest, before going into this. Like, okay, how are we
gonna build a solution that really supports these impediments? So I looked at some stats and I discovered that, so this is based on the UNESCO Organization which is the United Nations
Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, which I actually found
out this morning that for some reason America
wanted to exit from that. I was reading on the news
like, hmm, interesting. And I discovered that in
Myanmar and Afghanistan, the literacy levels percentage which is the people who can
read and write, basically, were very low. And if you recall two slides ago, a high percentage of
refugees in New Zealand currently are actually
from these two countries which makes us, and hence we have to, whatever solution we’re providing needs to factor that in. How are we catering for those
people with those needs? The other issue that came out
from the workshops is that housing was a problem. If you rent in Wellington, you probably know about this problem. So finding warm housing
and just knowing your area was actually another obstacle. Because imagine you’re
getting settled in a new area, you don’t know your neighbors, and so it was a challenge
that I personally overlooked. I didn’t even think
about it, to be honest. And then you have weather. I don’t actually have any
comments on this slide, just like, you know? And then this happens, it’s quite amazing. How do you explain this to a refugee? I don’t know. So I also learned about
the recession program. So there’s actually, government and NGOs have actually done a lot of work to make sure the process is easy. So, there’s a six-week induction for new refugees that
arrive in New Zealand. And the first focus is
on empowering refugees to deal with what they call
social and coping skills. So that’s understanding how to best cope with different situations. The other phase focuses
on briefing refugees of their employment options. Unfortunately it sometimes
is not comforting but it lays down, you
have this background, you might be able to work in this, and it’s like kind of career advice. And the third phase focuses on health assessment, with focus
on mental health assessment because of the trauma. The fourth focuses on settlement planning so where to next from here, because the program
only runs for six weeks. And then the next phase is the education and
improving the language skills. So basic educational stuff. So the key learnings from these workshops and research that we did with ChangeMakers was that firstly, and this is some advice that we would give to other people who may be working with people of different backgrounds, is to diversify your user groups. So make sure you include, in our case the refugees, the people working with the
refugees, government agencies, NGOs, so mix it up, because
each would have different input. The other thing is, keep it simple. Like we got interrupted so many times when we were giving people instructions. Okay this, and to kind
of revise our language, make it simple so that
the parts were understood. Understanding the culture. So you’ll have to kind of be
aware of what’s appropriate and what’s not and so forth, like in that very session we had people from Somalia, China, remind me who else. Jerusalem, it was a good mix. So, try and understand
the different cultures. Syria as well, Syria,
I forgot that key one. And the thing that I would say is to be very patient, it’s not your typical workshop or session. It’s not like, because a lot
of you are professionals, you know how it goes, you sit there. It will take a lot longer and
you really need to be patient. All right, meet Geert. So this is Andrew’s favorite researchers. (chuckles) Right. So, Geert actually, as I kind of started delving a bit deeper into
kind of cross-cultural UX and so forth, I started
researching about it and I discovered that Geert actually has, who used to work with IBM, has done a bit of a research about culture and how people are influenced by values. And he described culture as “collective programming of the mind “that distinguishes one group of people “or category from another “and it’s the glue that
holds societies together.” He has also some really,
I found, weird ideas about how culture is just
an imagination and so forth. And he’s published, if you’re
interested in the topic he’s published two great books which I haven’t read, I’ll be honest, but everyone talks about it. And one is the Organizational Culture and the other one, I forgot about, okay. Just Google it, all right. So what is cultural sensitivity? So cultural sensitivity is being aware that cultural differences and similarities between people exist, without
assigning them a value. Positive or negative, better
or worse, right or wrong according to your values and beliefs. So it’s recognizing, okay, so-and-so is different,
they have these things, I may disagree with them but recognizing it exists instead of denying it doesn’t. And assuming it doesn’t. So I also discovered that
there was a framework developed by Milton Bennett who proclaims that people
become more and more culturally sensitive as they progress from having an ethnocentric orientation to an ethnorelative worldview. So that’s going from denial,
defense, minimization, to acceptance, adaptation,
and integration. And I’ll hand over to Andrew now to give some reflections
on the GLAM sector. – As you can see, there
are many challenges surrounding designing a product that meets the needs of multiple cultures. It’s quite a challenge. So how do other
organizations meet the needs surrounding cross-cultural
user experiences? One sector that is constantly involved in delivering cross-cultural
experiences is the GLAM sector. It’s an internal acronym, so
if you haven’t heard of it it stands for Galleries,
Libraries, Archives and Museums. While it might seem like worlds
away from refugee services there are many insights
that this sector can offer. Myself and Zaid are participating in the 2017 Mahuki Accelerator
Program run by Te Papa. Whilst there we have learned
that most GLAM organizations have a mandate, often government-driven, to deliver content that meets the needs of its wide-ranging
audiences and cultures. Starting at home, Te
Papa was opened in 1998 and founded with the Treaty
of Waitangi-based mandates to deliver bi-cultural content. Te Papa is leading the way
GLAM sectors in New Zealand deliver content in both
Te Reo Maori and English. And they’re famous for having
a horse in a glass box. Te Papa delivers bi-cultural content in many ways to its audiences, from signage in Maori and English, Maori and Pacifica-focused exhibits, to fully bilingual digital interactives. In fact, Te Papa has been
using digital interactives to deliver bi-cultural
content for many years now. Here is an example of an
early bilingual interactive. Now, it’s approximately 15 years old, and the UX provides limited flexibility as you only get to choose your language at the beginning of the interactive. And, while it is possible
to complete the interactive without English prompts, it might confuse normal
fluent Maori speakers. Today, things are far more improved. Here is an example of a
recently developed interactive for the Te Pahi medal. At the top right corner
are easy-to-read buttons that allow instant switching
between Maori and English. This allows seamless toggling between the two languages. Now the Te Pahi medal interactive is a small part of the Maori
exhibitions at Te Papa. A recently-launched Ko Rongowhakaata, The Story of Light and Shadow exhibit surrounds itself around a
Rongowhakaata Iwi and his stories. This was a completely
collaborative design process with the Rongowhakaata Iwi to develop the exhibition and its content. This is essential to being
able to deliver content that is culturally
sensitive and appropriate. By working in this way, the stories of the Rongowhakaata are told by the Iwi people from
their cultural perspective. The tech used also goes a step further than Te Pahi, because
not only is the content fully bilingual, but you can
even change your language from Maori to English halfway
through watching a video. And for the English version
of the digital interactives, the Maori words are highlighted, and when selected an English
translation is presented as well as an audio clip of a Maori term. Our cousins across the
ditch have similar mandates and requirements to delivering
culturally diverse content. I have just arrived back yesterday morning after 10 days in Australia. While there, I learned
how GLAM institutions in Melbourne, Canberra, and Sydney are delivering cross-cultural experiences. Now I’ve probably been
to 12 or 13 or 14 museums so I’m not going to go through all of them but these are the highlights. Melbourne Museum. They have a horse in a glass box too. (audience laughs) Now Melbourne, quite like Te Papa, has a cultural mandate to
deliver culturally-based content and they have a huge exhibition space dedicated to delivering culture surrounding indigenous original culture via stories and history. There’s a large portion of the museum dedicated to Aboriginal culture. Text and language are prevalent throughout the exhibition space. This includes signage like this that features the Aboriginal text above and the English below. Te Papa have similar
signage to this as well. National Museum of
Australia, based in Canberra. Well, they actually have a
horse’s heart in a glass box. Here, there was a mandate
to deliver exhibitions with a focus on Australian
culture and stories. This can be best seen in the
recently-launched exhibition, Songlines, Tracking the Seven Sisters which is at the National
Museum of Australia. This was a world first
in scale and complexity as it showcases sections of five indigenous, Aboriginal, Western, and Central Desert songlines, utilizing paintings,
photographs, songs, dance, and multimedia to narrate the
story of the seven sisters as they traverse the continent
through the three states, three deserts, and 500,000 kilometers. The exhibition is delivered in part by an interactive audio app. This helps to provide a
total sensory experience and total immersion in the culture. You really do feel like
you’re traversing the desert with these women. Like Rongowhakaata at Te Papa, this exhibition was driven
by cultural representation and wouldn’t have been
possible without the inclusion and collaboration of the aboriginal women and their cultural insights. The experience itself was one
of total cultural immersion that showcased such a
powerful, in-depth look into the culture that
it was almost spiritual. This was most felt when
lying down under a dome which is what this photo is of with a 360-degree projection. National Portrait
Gallery, also in Canberra. So here they have quite a
large focus on education with a lot of school groups going through. And what they found was, a lot of the school
groups that go through, the children don’t
necessarily have English as a first language, so they developed an interactive portraiture app which allows the students to use an iPad to talk, almost, to the
paintings in the gallery. But they made sure that the English was very, very, very simplified so that children who do have
English as a second language could easily understand it. The Australian Museum and
the National Maritime Museum, both based in Sydney, New South Wales, identified a different
language requirement for its audiences. Both institutions realized
that many of their visitors were native Chinese Mandarin speakers. And thus a decision was made to develop and deliver content for this sector. To ensure that the content
developed was appropriate, native Chinese speakers at the museums worked with app developers
to deliver content. It became quite clear that
translation is not enough. To fully convey another language, the words need to be interpreted. Otherwise you might end up with signs that don’t make sense. So, understanding the
culture behind the language, this is really, really key, especially when it comes to
designing services for people who don’t speak English or another language or another culture. So gaining a deep
understanding of a culture you’re designing for is key to being able to meet their needs. This is to ensure that you’re delivering a culturally sensitive experience and one that takes into
account their cultural norms. This could be thought of as an immersion and
cultural interpretation to see how that culture lives, to see their struggles,
to walk in their shoes. It can almost be described as looking through a cultural lens. All this research has
led to the conclusion that to be able to offer a
cross-cultural experience, a deep understanding of that culture and culture groups is necessary. It’s about being able to
understand them at a human level. This will be key to being able to offer comprehensive services with ChangeMakers. So to ensure a successful service a cultural representative
for each refugee groups, a representative would be necessary to ensure that the
content and the language is delivered in a easy-to-understand way and in a culturally sensitive way. – Thank you. I also would like to share a bit about some of the key learnings in terms of implementing the solution. So one of the things that came out also from the very final workshop was to ensure use of visual,
a lot of visual aids, and that overcomes the language barrier. The other thing is to
ensure that it’s localized so you’ve included things that accommodate for different cultures. To use simple language. And to use less of metaphors and slang because not everyone will get it. I personally struggled
with some of the slang and metaphors that I see around on the way but yeah, it’s quite important. And the other thing is to be
considerate and non-offensive. And of course, eliminating stereotypes. So you’re dealing with
a lot of cultures here. So to invite individuals to participate, to learn about their cultures and values. To keep an open dialogue
with different parties as we touched on earlier on. To be able to listen and be patient and give everyone a chance to speak, and to appreciate people’s differences. And lastly to be open-minded
and understanding. As for our strategy, the best approach would be to develop a long-term roadmap that
outlines your vision. To set up focus groups to meet the people, and the end users, well, I’m
not gonna say users anymore, following yesterday’s session. Meet the people and the VIPs. And to identify effective
communication channels. To make your content more accessible. And finally, to be proactive and future-proof your solution. So for example, if you
plan to make it bilingual think about mentioning that to the development team and so forth. So I’ve just got enough
time to play this video and I think it’s amazing ’cause there are a lot
of takeaways from this. So it’s just two minutes, and this is on a program by
the BBC called Amazing Humans and it looks at those clowns
who work with refugees and yeah, just bring them joy. So I’ll get that started,
hopefully it’ll work. (group yells) – Fee! – [Group] Fee! – Fee fi! – [Group] Fee fi! – Fee fi fo! – [Group] Fee fi fo! – We’re clowns, musicians, and dancers, performers, play workers,
play specialists, and we focus on working
with refugee families who are living in harsh environments. (sweeping instrumental music) (chatters merrily) When we first got to, into
Indomini Camp for example, I did have major, major doubts like, is this the right place for us? Are we insulting them? You see the kids, and their
first reaction is a bit like… And then they look, and they
look at you, and you go. Three, two, one, yella! So we’ve been doing music circles, art, dance, cinema, puppet making, Ceilidh dances, pizza decorating, anything we can think of to give them an opportunity to feel good and to feel daft and to feel playful. – [Performer] What is your name? – [Girl] Halin. – [Group] Hello, Halin! – No? Who can tell me, in your
magic words, how to… – Their eyes sparkle just for a second and they’re just kids again and it’s so simple,
actually, to be honest. – Before, the kids doesn’t
have anything to do. Just, they stay in the tent. When you come, you make something from nothing. – Beyond politics and
beyond all this adult stuff, kids just are kids and they
like to play duck duck goose and they like to run about and they like to be congratulated for very average artwork, you know? They need that. Our futures are the dreams we have as kids turned into reality. I want them to feel that
they can do anything. (emotional instrumental music) (audience applauds) – [Zaid] Thank you.

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