CWAATSICH | Helping remote communities access NDIS services with a culturally appropriate app
The Charleville and Western Areas, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation for Health (CWAATSICH) offers full-time GP services from Charleville with outreach clinics in Mitchell, Roma and Quilpie providing regular part-time visiting GP service to regional Australian communities.
CWAATSICH also provides outreach services to Surat, Windorah and the surrounding area to deliver holistic, culturally appropriate health services that improve health and well-being outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in its communities.
CWAATSICH engaged Digital8 for accessible, culturally appropriate application design and development to help its remote communities access NDIS funding and support services.
Incorporating accessible designs and integrating with the NDIS, Digital8 delivered the PlanBy app built with React Native, available on both Apple and Google devices, to assist people with disabilities in the CWAATSICH community.
CWAATSICH requested the creation of app development to provide a user-friendly entry point for navigating NDIS funding and support services to replace a difficult end-user experience.
CWAATSICH needed an app specifically for people with disabilities in remote communities to improve accessibility and user experience when accessing NDIS services.
Understanding the Business Objectives
CWAATSICH had a handful of key requirements to ensure the project met its business objectives and moved closer to its overall vision of ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people live in inclusive communities that deliver equality in health, well-being and life expectancy outcomes.
The target audience was remote, often speaking English as a second language (ESL) and, in many cases, were culturally isolated from accessing traditional healthcare and disability services. These key demographic points drove Digital8’s design and development decisions to ensure accessibility for everyone in the target audience and their carers.
The app also needed to be able to function without an additional internet connection after the initial download as users in remote Queensland often don’t have reliable internet access. The app also included a relevant language pack for ESL users which would also allow for additional language packs to be easily updated.
Importantly, the app was required to be fully accessible to users with disabilities. The user needed to be able to easily select accessibility options to allow for visual impairment, hearing impairment and other accessibility requests.
As part of the functionality of this application, a level of integration with the NDIS was also required to ensure the most relevant healthcare content is presented to the user.
Digital8 began the design and development process with multiple kick-off meetings with CWAATSICH to better understand the client’s goals and expectations.
The designers and developers were then able to draft a timeline for deliverables and decide on the best tech stack to complete the project. A scoping document was created for the client to review and approve before Digital8 moved onto the design phase.
In the design phase, high fidelity mockups of the application were created by our expert UI/UX designers. The mockups were sent to CWAATSICH for feedback and approval which offered clarity about how the final app would look and feel.
The UI/UX designs took CWAATSICH’s key business objectives into consideration and ensured all accessibility, visual and user experience aspects of the app were approved prior to the development phase.
Additionally, the design team researched competitors and planned the layout and styling of the main app components using carefully collected data.
Along the way, Digital8 developers were in communication with the design team to ensure the technical feasibility of the initial prototypes and once the CWAATSICH were satisfied with the mockups, these designs were moved into the development phase.
Once the CWAATSICH approved both the scope of the project and the design prototypes, the app development phase began. Using modern technologies including React Native to build the frontend functionality of the app, Digital8’s app developers built the PlanBy app according to the accessibility specifications required by the client and designed by the UI/UX designers.
The PlanBy app includes features such as an exploratory phase which allows users with no formal diagnosis to explore the range of conditions contained within the NDIS. Using culturally and disability-relevant language, the application in the exploratory phase, guides the end user to choose which NDIS funded disabilities they may be eligible for.
Digital8 also built an NDIS Access Request Helper that helps the end user or carer understand the NDIS access request process and provides them with step-by-step guides on how to apply for NDIS access. This section of the application provides a range of questions, taken from the standard approved NDIS application process for the end user to prepare and research the answers to questions in advance of an in-person interview at the NDIS office. This is traditionally a difficult process for the CWAATSICH’s target audience and allowing them to prepare in advance is a key benefit of this application.
The PlanBy app also includes an NDIS Plan Personalisation Helper to help personalise an NDIS plan for a patient who has been approved for NDIS support funding for a particular condition. This becomes useful and available once an end user has been assessed by the NDIS through the Access Request Helper and has funding available to provide a range of services.
POS Assistance is also a feature of the app to allow the end user, who has successfully accessed the NDIS, and successfully constructed a personalised plan for access, to look at what Providers of Service are available within their nearby area.
Over a seven-week period, the development phase also included server setup to host the app seamlessly as well as backend development to manage the NDIS database and integrations. A staging version of the app was completed and the testing phase began.
The app then underwent device testing to ensure its functionality across various devices, responsive testing to ensure the designs and code were all working together and peak user testing to avoid any future crashes.
When the development and testing phase were complete and the staging app was approved by the CWAATSICH, the PlanBy app entered the deployment phase.
To deploy the PlanBy app, Digital8 transitioned the staging environment to a live production server and delivered it to both the Android and iOS app stores. Once the app was live and fully functional, Digital8 facilitated a detailed handover of the app to the CWAATSICH team.
Digital8 provided ongoing support for the PlanBy app for the first three months of deployment in the case of unforeseen bugs or issues.
The PlanBy app was required to help remote communities access up-to-date NDIS funding and support services. Therefore, the most prominent challenge the Digital8 team came across when building the PlanBy app involved integrating the database with the ever-changing NDIS resources available to people with disabilities.
Digital8 liaised with the NDIS to ensure all the proper channels of communication were open and flowing. This helped the development team integrate all NDIS services into the PlanBy app to make the user experience accessible, culturally appropriate and technically sound.
The final app integrates seamlessly with NDIS service options and information to help the target audience access the correct details about their healthcare. Additionally, the app can be used both as a user or as a carer to navigate through various content depending on this status.
Additionally, since accessibilty for individuals with disabilities was an important challenge for the Digital8 team, there were countless features implemented to make the PlanBy app completely accessible. For example, using pre-recorded sound files, the user can opt to enable an indigenous voice to provide spoken navigation guidance through the app.
The PlanBy app was released to the Android and iOS app stores on 30 October 2020 with overwhelmingly positive feedback from the CWAATSICH team and the app developers at Digital8 consider it to be one of the more successful and rewarding projects we’ve completed.
Some of the most impressive features built by Digital8’s app developers for the PlayBy app include:
- NDIS eligibility checker
- Access request helper that aids with data collection
- Easy access to NDIS planning information
- Simple PDF export of NDIS plan
- Accessibility for VoiceOver (iOs) and TalkBack (Android)
With this app, Digital8 met and exceeded CWAATSICH business objectives and built an application that’s not only expertly designed and technically sound but also reached the client’s target audience with a culturally appropriate, fully accessible app.
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