New crisis communication strategy should reach all Belgian residents
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New crisis communication strategy should reach all Belgian residents

Credit: Belga

A new communication strategy about the coronavirus measures – but also in case of future crises – is being worked on to reach all Belgian residents, which is not always the case today.

The research project is coordinated by the University of Antwerp with UCL Leuven, KU Leuven and the Thomas More Hogeschool, in collaboration with the National Crisis Centre and ‘Atlas Integration & assimilation.’

“It is not possible to reach all groups in the same way, and the current communication is not accessible to all in the same way,” project leader Prof. Mieke Vandenbroucke (UAntwerpen) said.

For example, not everyone follows the press conference after a Consultative Committee. “Think of people who speak another language, those who are visually or hearing impaired, or vulnerable groups such as people with low literacy skills,” she said.

“It is difficult for them to follow the press conferences of the Consultative Committee, and to navigate on a website to easily find all the measures,” Vandenbroucke said. “It is therefore important to make all the information available in an accessible language and form, through appropriate dissemination channels, so that everyone can access it.”

This is why a new communication strategy is being developed, which will take into account the (multi-)linguistic and cultural diversity and the literacy level of the Belgian population.

“In this way, we will be able to combat inequalities in access to prevention messages, problems in understanding these messages and we will be able to reach certain vulnerable target groups,” stressed Prof. Isabelle Aujoulat of the UCLouvain.

The researchers are thinking in particular about communication that uses visual language and translations, communication that is accessible to people with visual or hearing impairments and messages that are shared through both traditional and new media.

“We know that social media and other digital channels such as WhatsApp are important channels for communicating with citizens speaking a foreign language,” said Heleen Van Opstal (Atlas Integration & Assimilation Antwerpen).

“However, traditional communication products such as (multilingual) leaflets or flyers are also important,” she added.

The Brussels Times