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  4. Designing for Safety: A Trauma-Informed User Research Guide

Designing for Safety: A Trauma-Informed User Research Guide

Release Date: February 6, 2024

Federal agencies are working to expand our engagement with vulnerable and underserved communities by including a more diverse pool of participants in user research. A wider group of participants allows us to include all types of lived experiences, some of which are difficult and have left our customers with lasting effects. Many government services aid the public during their most difficult moments, and through research we are learning how trauma affects our brains and nervous systems. We are leveraging this knowledge to best design government services to account for individual’s trauma.

“Agencies must increase engagement with underserved communities by identifying and applying innovative approaches to improve the quality, frequency, and accessibility of engagement.”
(Executive order 13985)

Tactics, such as content warnings and informed consent, not only help people protect themselves, but also enable DHS to conduct ethical user research. We are actively exploring innovative methods for user research that prioritize both safety and inclusion.

“[…] the unintended but similarly widespread re-traumatizing of individuals within our public institutions and service systems, makes it necessary to rethink doing “business as usual.”
(SAMHSA’s Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach)

Combining the principles of a trauma-informed approach, developed by SAMHSA, with an ethical research framework, and a touch of creativity, we can establish a secure and enriching learning path.

Last Updated: 02/08/2024
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