Published Monday 1 Mar 2021

COVID-19 tracing booklet serves genuine community need

Over 2.3 million of us are familiar with the COVID-19 Tracer App, however when the App was launched in May 2020, Regional Public Health (RPH) quickly identified that there was a gap for parts of our community. A collaborative team quickly set-about creating an accessible alternative to the NZ COVID Tracer App, the ‘COVID-19 Contact Tracker’ booklet to circulate within our Wellington communities. Initially over 10,000 copies were distributed to libraries and community groups in our region.

Two key members of the creative team were Siobhan Murphy, graphic designer, from RPH and Leo Goldie-Anderson from the 3DHB Disability Strategy team. Siobhan designed the booklet and Leo was able to provide advice and feedback to ensure the content was accessible for as many people as possible. Staff from our Māori and Pacific Health units were also involved early at the drafting stage to provide feedback on the concept. The booklet was created with older people and disability groups in mind. People who may not own a smart phone, or who may not be adept at scanning QR codes. By helping people keep track of where they have been and who they have seen, in turn, helps our contact tracing efforts.

Not long after the booklet was launched in the Wellington region, the Unite Against COVID-19 team, saw the potential to nationalise the booklet. Utilising the Regional Public Health concept and designs, they published the ‘NZ COVID-19 Tracer Booklet.’ At the same time taking accessibility to another dimension by translating this version into over 20 languages.

“What thrilled me the most about this collaboration was the dedicated effort to accessibility, and considering the information needs of the disabled community right from the beginning of the project. Being brought on board at draft stage, and having my feedback actively sought and quickly responded to was a great way to build accessibility in from the start,” said Leo. Last year, Leo was also seconded into the Ministry of Health team as the alternate formats lead for the disability communications team.

“Access to information is a human rights issue, and any gaps or problems in communication are magnified during a crisis! Disabled people need all the same information at the same time as the rest of the community, and it needs to be easy to find, easy to access, and easy to understand. Clear communication was New Zealand’s best weapon against COVID-19, and our fantastic national response relied on everyone in our team of five million knowing what was happening and what to do,” said Leo.

The response from the community has been positive too. “I have had people contacting me saying how much they love the booklet and how useful it is. A community board member contacted me to say she saw the booklet at the Paraparaumu Library, she had many contacts within her community who would benefit from the booklet, so she asked for 100 that she would hand out,” said Siobhan. “Similarly, an employee at a retirement home said ‘we have received the COVID-19 booklet and our residents love it!’ Then she placed an order for 300 more copies. It’s cool that what started out as a communications project for our Wellington community, turned into a really valuable resource that people from all over New Zealand can now access.”

The COVID Tracer booklets are free and can be ordered through the Unite Against COVID-19 website. 

Regional Public Health’s booklet is also available ontheir website

Both websites have printable versions available.