Hi, welcome to our last blog post where we will be talking about a moment of significance during this project! This is the last blog post of the term, and sadly all good things must come an end~
In this course, a moment of significance occurred when our group conducted trials for using the Vancouver Food Asset Map. After communicating and arranging schedules with several community partners, our point of trial was decided to be the Kiwassa Neighbourhood House, situated in the Hastings-Sunrise area. When we arrived, we were directed to head to the kitchen, where community members were participating in a cooking program. Upon meeting the community partner, she immediately asked if any of us can speak Mandarin explaining that speaking in Mandarin would make the trialing process a lot easier. This came as a surprise, and adds on to the difficulty of the trialing as only a couple of our group members were fluent in Mandarin.
At the beginning of the trial, we quickly realized the limited English capability of the community members, so introductions, instructions, and explanations of the consent form were given mostly in Mandarin. When we did the research on the Hastings-Sunrise Neighbourhood, we were aware of the large percentage of population who didn’t have English as their first language (Statistics Canada, 2013); however, we did not anticipate that we would have to conduct the entire trial of the map in Mandarin with minimal English given that we were trialing a small sample of the community. In terms of presentation, language is a very powerful tool in getting communication across, “It is very important to use clear, accessible language, especially when you are explaining difficult or complex ideas.” (McCarthy et al., 2002). So it’s no surprise that the difficulty of introducing and explaining the map increased, since Mandarin had to be used instead of English. For those in our group that were unable to communicate in Mandarin, we explained the context of our project using simple words and phrases in English, as well as hand gestures. Even so, it was difficult to relay the message across clearly without being able to communicate with them as efficiently as we hoped to. This type of unexpected occurrence highlights the gap/disconnection between the information/assumptions of academia and the reality within the community. Similar to research and experiments, in theory, the conduction of a trial would be a straightforward process by utilizing a well designed and researched proposal. However, expectations and reality are two separate things, and the researchers (which in our case, the members of Group 7 in the map trialing process), actually face many obstacles and challenges in the actual research trial (Mushcab et al., 2015). Our obstacle/challenge, in this case, presented itself as the language barrier between the community members and the trialing facilitators. Furthermore, by trialing the map, we discovered challenges of using the map that we never would have thought of. For example, for many of the community members, getting to the website itself was a challenge because they had difficulty in typing in the web address, and a single mistake in one character would lead them to an error. They also had difficulties with using the computers and navigating around the map, such as zooming in and out. This reveals that what our group thought was clear and user-friendly may still have many areas of improvements especially for actual community members.
After receiving and understanding the community members’ perspectives on the Vancouver Food Asset Map, we have come up with several changes that can be implemented to improve the usability of the map. First of all, an easier way to access the map would hugely increase the accessibility of the map since getting to the site was one of the biggest challenges. For example, making the web address shorter and more simple, or making it available through google search will allow people to access the site more easily. Furthermore, language played a significant role for this community in the ability to understand information, so the creators and partners of the Google map can look into providing translations for the information currently available. With the feedback we received from the community members, certain changes can be made to further improve the accessibility of the map, hopefully leading to a future expansion that include other communities. It would definitely be beneficial to continue to improve the ease of use of the Vancouver Food Asset Map as well as the content while having community members constantly trial the improvements so that feedback is received on what is most adaptable for the community population.
- Statistics Canada, Census. (2013). Hastings-Sunrise Community Statistics. Retrieved from http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/Hastings-Sunrise-census-data.pdf
- McCarthy, P., Hatcher, C., & SAGE Research Methods Online. (2002; 2013). Presentation skills: The essential guide for students. Thousand Oaks, Calif; London: Sage Publications.
- Mushcab H, W George Kernohan, Wallace J, Harper R, Martin S (2015) The Journey towards Successful Research in a Diabetes Clinic:Expectations vs. Reality. J Health Med Informat 6:204. doi:10.4172/2157-7420.1000204