So Shaina and I made this thing called, together with a bunch of designers, illustrators and translators in Singapore. VisualAid is a resource site of illustrated translations to help healthcare workers communicate better with migrant workers affected by COVID-19.

We were inspired by Sudesna Roy Chowdhury's website, a treasure trove of COVID-19-related translations for healthcare workers. We took that as a starting point of our project and did more field research, spoke to clinicians and nurses at the COVID-19 frontline, brainstormed ideas, prototyped them to eventually come up with VisualAid.

Based on our guerilla research, we think these visual aids are useful at a few places:

  • At screening and triage, to ask about symptoms, living environment, travel history.
  • At the wards, to talk about ongoing symptoms, health markers and daily needs.
  • At community isolation facilities like at Expo, for migrant workers to communicate daily needs and wants, like toiletries, clothes, snacks, games.
  • At clinics and other healthcare facilities, and any other situation in other healthcare facilities like GP clinics, community care facilities, designated housing, medical posts, purpose-built dorms, mobile FAST teams, etc.

Aaaand we're launching the project today! We started on 17 April, launched on 4 May – from research to concept to launch in just over two weeks. Two pretty intense weeks, I must say. And I'm pretty proud of the end product! We currently have two collections of illustrated translations in Bengali, all downloadable for free. Yes, free! It’s an all-volunteer, not-for-profit, completely ground-up, design for social good project. Just a bunch of designers, illustrators and translators volunteering their time, burning weekday nights and weekends to make this thing and put this out there. To just help out in any way we can, contribute our skills in any way is needed.

But we do see this not as the final thing, but the first step. After all, we've only got translations for Bengali. There's still other translations we need to include, like Tamil, Hindi, Burmese, Chinese, etc. Already, there are requests coming in from healthcare professionals for illustrations and translations in other medical settings. Not forgetting that there's also other vulnerable groups—like say, the elderly living in nursing homes—who might need potentially benefit from this. Lots more field research to do, people to talk to, stakeholders to engage, ideas to brew.

So we believe that there is a lot of potential for illustrated translations in healthcare settings, and the Bengali collection is just the beginning! We responded to the need of the times (i.e. COVID-19), but we do foresee that this can go beyond our current situation, to reach other languages, dialects and groups of patients.

So if you are reading this and see an opportunity that these visual aids might also be useful for your patients and/or beneficiaries, please contact us! We'll love to talk.

Onward, Singapore.

- Jason
for the VisualAid team