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When a disaster strikes—whether that’s a hurricane or a coronavirus outbreak—people need to quickly understand the actual risk and what they can do to keep themselves safe. However, helping people to comprehend that information is difficult when the situation is complex and your audience is under stress. The comics medium, with its unique visual and narrative characteristics, can be an effective tool for risk communication. Comics can make the unfamiliar more concrete, adding clarity to information in uncertain situations. Comics also have the potential to humanize difficult asks for public safety by leaning into empathy and emotion.
In this talk, Meredith Li-Vollmer, a risk communication specialist, will discuss how the health department in Seattle and King County, Washington has used comics to convey critical health information for emergency preparedness and response.
Meredith Li-Vollmer, PhD, is the risk communications manager at Public Health – Seattle & King County, where she has worked in emergency preparedness and response since 2006. She has served on numerous national advisory roles for organizations including the National Academies Committee on Increasing National Resilience to Hazards and Disasters. Meredith is also active in the field of graphic medicine, as a cartoonist and author of Graphic Public Health: A Comics Anthology and Roadmap (2022). Her own comics have been published in The Stranger, Illustrated PEN America, and the American Journal of Public Health. She received her doctorate in Communication from the University of Washington.
By the end of this webinar, participants will be able to:
- Define risk communication.
- Identify methods of communicating disaster preparedness information to the public using comics.
- Discuss the value of comics in risk communication using comics.