An approach to tackling digital inequalities
This blog was first published on Medium in March 2021
Tackling inequalities requires a multi-level and multi-disciplinary approach. One way to reduce the potential negative impact of digital transformation in public services is through Inclusive People Centred approaches. Adopting inclusive methodologies in the design, development and dissemination of digital services/products/tools with people with protected characteristics is a cost effective approach which maximises reach.
Many of you are grappling with HOW to do inclusion. I'm therefore sharing our approach, which is one of many approaches to building inclusive digital services, tools and products. Good tech should be designed alongside communities most at risk of exclusion. If it works for these communities, it will benefit the maximum number of people.
Let's start with the problem statements you may want to address...
How can co-design with seldom heard communities support us to tackle inequity?
What strategies should we adopt locally, regionally and nationally to address digital exclusion?
What are the ingredients needed to maximise adoption and uptake of digital services by groups resistant or less likely to engage with our offers? (workforce and community)
How do we democratise access to our services and ensure equity of uptake and adoption?
Now let us turn our attention to the model:
This is just one approach. I am sharing to bring pragmatism into this space. Albeit, it's an approach which has been honed after 20 years of practice.
Step 1. Collaboration
Reach out to grassroots organisations, community leaders, local authorities and service providers catching the communities you serve, every day. The way forward requires collaboration, openness and respect.
Step 2. Build trust
Make sure that you include people from the start and you share power. Act upon what you hear and don’t forget to go back to the community and tell them what you did as a result of them sharing. This builds trust and tackles mis- and dis-information.
With over 11 million adults self-assessing as digitally excluded, a further 11.5million functionally illiterate and 1.2 million people living with a learning disability, we have a moral imperative to build inclusive tech with public funds. Don’t just do tech, do good tech that is fit for purpose.