Rocky Mountain Victim Law Center
Web-app helps local victims of sexual assault and violence
RMvlc web-app aims to connect victims of crime to a wraparound network of services.
After a traumatic event, ranging from domestic abuse to elder neglect to robbery or assault, a victim can open the web-app and answer a series of questions about what happened. The questions result in a custom list of actionable resources. This tool gives the power back to people who have found themselves in at-risk situations.
The LINC web-app was built using decoupled methodology. Drupal is used to manage the content on the back end and Ember is used to build a highly interactive frontend experience. This decoupled approach allowed us to leverage the strengths of both.
The LINC Online Navigator was built on top of an existing Drupal 7 site which was used to manage the content and provide an API for our web app. We used Ember on the frontend to build a highly interactive experience that would have been difficult in Drupal alone. The choice to use Ember over other technologies, which all excel in these types of interactive web apps, came from the strong open source community and their focus on performance, stability, and scalability.
RMvlc and community project partners, completed a two-year victim needs assessment that demonstrated the importance of providing victims with accurate and reliable legal information for crime victims. That research culminated in the LINC program which meets the needs of crime victims through a legal information website and helpline.
The web-app project included a substantial Discovery Phase, during which we established confidentiality for victims and other users to be the first priority. We were able to learn about the impact of trauma on crime victims and develop a tool that is responsive to their individual needs including accessible trauma-informed language and confidentiality.
“We spent significant time during the discovery process getting into the mindset of the people who’d be using the tool. They aren’t your average web user. They’ve been through a lot, so the experience needed to be helpful and empathetic.” - Jill Farley, UX/Content Strategist, Elevated Third.
The web-app format provides a certain anonymity that picking up the phone and calling a hotline cannot. For this reason, we made sure the design and UX of the tool felt confidential and safe. In fact, a feature exists that, with the push of a button, closes the tool and opens a neutral window. This ‘escape button’ gives peace of mind to victims who may be in a vulnerable situation.
Once the victim has completed the survey-style web-app questions, they can access a summary of legal help information and resources specific to their answers. Victims may print it, email it to themselves or someone else. Before accessing their summary, victims are asked to answer a series of optional, non-identifying demographic questions. RMvlc can use this data to better understand the needs of crime victims and support future funding efforts.
Why It Matters
With an estimated 16,700 violent crimes reported each year in Colorado and many more unreported crimes, the audience for a tool like this is huge.
“There is a myriad of complex needs, legal and otherwise, that victims have stemming from their victimization. Often, they don’t know where to begin or search. A website is only as useful as the questions a victim knows to ask or search for. The website and app are specifically designed to ensure victims are getting accurate information about questions they didn’t even know they had. Using technology to address victims’ needs has been vastly underutilized across the field and nation. We are excited to be at the forefront of developing tools that will greatly impact a victim's’ experience by helping them get the information and support they need and deserve.” - Emily Tofte Nestaval, Executive Director, RMvlc
The LINC program at RMvlc aims to connect victims to a wraparound network of services. The LINC website and web-app, designed with a unique audience in mind, are critical elements in making connections for victims safely and confidentiality during a time when they need it most.
Can an innovative digital tool help your nonprofit?