Make It Stick, will place design of image and text on Leapfrog tool, Visual Voice squarely in the hands of the user. Here we take a look at how the tool is being used now and why there could be a need to make it so flexible.
The Public Realms department in Lancaster City Council have used the tool once at a consultation event. However, while they can see the potential benefits of using the tool, they find particular challenge in knowing how to frame the questions. They cite the need for more examples of Visual Voice in use to have a better sense of how they might appropriate it. Arguably, there may also be an underlying issue of finding the right kinds of questions to fit the existing templates. Ideally, having greater flexibility through the design may enable users to first frame their question, and then produce a design to fit accordingly rather than be restricted by working the other way round.
This challenge is echoed by the Learning Disability Joint Commissioning Team at Lancashire County Council, who pinpoint the restriction presented by editable text fields with limited space for the kinds of questions they want to ask in engagement activities. Likewise, the team would want to increase the font size available, leaving less space still for text. While this could be managed to some extent through flexible design, the space available on the physical template is still limited between the stickers. However, if in this circumstance, Visual Voice is being used as an aid in conversation, could this project equally present an opportunity to use no text at all in favour of images if text on the tool itself isn’t strictly required?
By contrast, Visual Voice has proved to be very well suited, fun and useful to Lancashire Children’s Service who have already used it to good effect in four consultation programmes led by young people in peer to peer engagement. These include their Young Inspectors group, Children in Care and Young Carers service. In all of the projects, Visual Voice is reported as working well and that children enjoy using the stickers.
The Young Inspectors are a mix of Young people (14–20 years) from around Lancashire with different experiences at the edge of services, exploring the quality of service provision in the region and helping to ensure that young people are influencing service development. They enter different settings to engage other young people and staff, to ask about what works or does not work in the service as well as what they think could improve the services. For instance, this is done in preparation for Ofsted. The newest group to use the tool are young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). This group will be looking at universal service provision affecting them as well as distinct services.
Lancashire Children’s Service also used the tool with the Children in Care Council and Young Carers service. In this setting, the tool was not always printed in favour of providing oral descriptions. This use of the tool also speaks to the possibility of using imagery only instead of text.
A particularly novel plan for use will be when Lancashire Children’s Service also use the tool as an alternative method for producing a report with Barnados for the Young Carers service. The images created by Visual Voice will then be turned into a film created by the young people involved. We will be excited to see how Visual Voice is used here in combination with film as another engagement tool, and how this impacts overall communication.