Law app helps people living with a disability seek support

Developing an app to help people living with a disability has given JD student Alexander Meredith valuable insight into the principles of human-centred design.

JD students Alexander Meredith, Camille Bentley-McGoldrick, Sophia Griffiths-Mark, Roland Campton-Strachan and Chloe Fabbro have built an app for Disability Justice Advocacy inc. (DJA), a not-for-profit organisation which advocates for and supports people living with a disability.

Developed in the JD elective Law Apps, the app helps users navigate the discrimination complaints process and seek out further support – a key issue for DJA’s clients.

“A lot of people don’t know what discrimination is for the purposes of the law,” Alexander said.

“The app will help people who are living with disability to understand more about discrimination, and to begin the complaints process.”

The app guides DJA clients through questions based on Victorian and Commonwealth disability discrimination legislation, helping them to learn more about discrimination. It then compiles a report for DJA, assisting in starting the complaints process if clients wish to pursue one.

Alexander says this will help the DJA community in a number of ways.

“There’s a lot of inaccessible and unstructured information on the internet,” he said.

“That makes it very difficult for people to tell whether or not they’ve been discriminated against, what they can do about it and where they can go for help.”

The app will also help the DJA triage more urgent applications for discrimination assistance. Alexander says this is crucial for the not-for-profit organisation, which can be inundated with requests.

For Alexander, designing the app has provided unique insights into the user experience.

“About 30% of the DJA community have some kind of visual impairment. There are many people who can’t read or write at all, and a lot of people struggle to communicate,” he said.

“Our clients need larger text, contrasting colours and they enjoy audiovisual material. These unique requirements have given us the opportunity to exercise our creativity and really think about human-centred design.”

The team will present their app to a panel of experts at the Law Apps Awards Night on Thursday 18 October, vying for the Herbert Smith Freehills Prize for Best Law App. Regardless of the outcome, the experience has already paid off for Alexander.

“Our clients have really made us appreciate how certain assumptions regarding how an app should look or operate are completely incorrect, because we don’t understand the unique experience of people with disabilities,” he said.

“It’s been really humbling to have that insight.”

The Law Apps Awards Night is will be held at Herbert Smith Freehills in Melbourne on Thursday 18 October, with the event live-streamed on Facebook.

By Cassandra Tonkin

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