Inclusive Design: Spark Corps Goes to City Hall

Recently Spark Corps started working on an exciting new project with the Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. The office's Welcoming Atlanta initiative is focused on ensuring that immigrants and refugees feel welcome and included as an integral part of Atlanta’s diverse community. To that end, the Office of Immigrant Affairs has chosen Spark Corps to help develop the visual identity of a new related initiative called iSpeakATL. 

A mural outside the Office of the Mayor of the city of Atlanta

A mural outside the Office of the Mayor of the city of Atlanta

The main focus of the iSpeakATL initiative is to let immigrants know that they have access to language translation as a part of all city services. The ultimate goal is to create a more inclusive environment for all Atlanta residents regardless of language abilities. Limited knowledge of English shouldn’t be a hindrance to meaningful civic engagement and access to basic public services. 

Spark Corps’ role in this initiative is mainly to establish a clear and effective visual identity for iSpeakATL. We want to ensure that anyone who comes into contact with our branded materials is immediately aware that they have access to language translation services. The first step in making our work as effective as possible is to gain a better understanding of the problem from the perspective of our target audience – people with limited or no English speaking ability. 

Human-Centered Research

The entrance to Atlanta's City Hall

The entrance to Atlanta's City Hall

To gain a better understanding of our users and the context of the problem, we took a trip to City Hall. There, we were able to speak directly with employees and observe their interactions with citizens. The goal is to garner a deep sense of empathy for non-English speaking Atlanta residents, and better understand their mindset and emotions when attempting to navigate various city services. 

The City Hall Customer Service Desk

The City Hall Customer Service Desk

Pamphlets about ATL 311 are available in English and Spanish. Calling 311 within city limits provides access to language translation services along with information about many other city services. 

Pamphlets about ATL 311 are available in English and Spanish. Calling 311 within city limits provides access to language translation services along with information about many other city services. 

Human-centered design is about focusing on the end user and letting their needs drive the design direction. Ultimately, immersing ourselves in the context of the problem helped lead us to a much better understanding of the issues surrounding language and translation from the perspective of the multiple stakeholders involved. The insights gained will greatly aid us in the creation of highly effective branding materials for iSpeakATL, and hopefully lead to a more inclusive, welcoming community for all Atlanta residents. 

To find out more about Welcoming Atlanta and the Office of Immigrant Affairs click here.