Digital Exclusion

Digital Exclusion

Members have told us that as access to services and rights increasingly moves online, marginalised people and their organisations are becoming increasingly excluded.

Members asked us to work with them to connect digitally excluded Londoners to highlight intersecting barriers to digital inclusion and rights to ‘in real life’ (IRL) alternatives.

To support this work members told us to co-produce some briefings and a conference to support better understanding of digital exclusion (by Londoners policy makers, commissioners, businesses as well as ‘techies’ and ‘digital natives’) and current research and good practice in digital inclusion and using ICT for social and economic inclusion.

As part of this we have developed the 7 Deadly Sins of #DigitalExclusion which includes examples of how to overcome barriers to make sure all Londoners are part of the #DigitalRevolution. What do you think? Could this help you explain digital exclusion to stakeholders and statutory authorities? How could it be better? Do you have examples of good practice you want to share? Read the whole 7 Deadly Sins of Digital Exclusion or  👀 🗣️summary below.

7 Deadly Sins of Digital Exclusion

1) Inaccessible technology – the device, programme, layout are not accessible… cluttered websites, small font, self-service terminals that are too high up or that a wheelchair user cannot get close to, undescribed images, relying on QR codes, online forms, insecure networks without clear directions as to how to get support, ‘reasonable adjustments’ or real life alternatives.

2) Technical and technological language – many Londoners speak English as an additional language… emojis are culturally specific and BSL users do not have the same grammar as verbal people. TBH IRL = holg medal number 1.

3) Intersectionality – discrimination from different stigmatised identities creates cumulative exclusions… a stroke survivor, not a digital native, speaks English as a second language and is living with domestic abuse will not be able to access the protection they need by your website being WCAG 2.1 AA compliant or some ‘silver surfer’ training.

4) Poverty – many UK policy makers and privileged people presume that getting online is cheap to the point of free… Devices, broadband and data, paper and printing and personal assistant hours all add up

5) Shared Resources – many marginalised people rely on shared resources to get online at home, in the library and by using hotspots… Would you feel comfortable online banking in an internet café with the help of a waiter? Would you hand your bankcard to a stranger to access transport?

6) Poor privacy – much of what we do digitally is as an individual. If you are reliant on shared resources or ‘help’ to access the digital world then your right to privacy is infringed. Maintaining your data rights and knowing if your online and IRL movements can be monitored is an important part of digital inclusion. Intersectional and poorer people are less likely to insist on their confidentiality or IRL alternatives and often feel compelled to give up their data rights even when they understand the risks… Online forms rarely allow you to ‘prefer not to say’.

7) Risk – digital exploitation, harassment, theft and exclusion from statutory services, even those required for safeguarding, is of major concern to HEAR members… rather than harnessing the egalitarian potential of the digital revolution, we are embedding and exacerbating the discrimination and marginalisation that already exists.

1st steps to including us in the digital revolution

Expert by Experience involvement – we can design, create, code, curate, review and consult… Did you know (DYK) that before the Deaf community became the first adopters of text messaging, SMS was an add-on companies thought would go out with the pager? DYK disabled people made London transport digital?…DYK that Steve Jobs was a refugee or that the herstory of coding is woman’s work?

Digital Inclusion is about more than ‘skills’ – it is pretty unusual to find someone in London with no experience using digital technology… digital inclusion is about using ICT when you want, for what you want, logging off when you want, when you can create your own online world and networks.

Write in plain English and include an obvious glossary – the digital world is an entirely different medium to a novel, newspaper or journal… When you do write use plain English. ICT allows footnotes and definitions to appear with a wave of a cursor.

Capitalise your hashtags and websites – our website http://www.HEARequality.org.uk can be read as He Are Quality if all in lower case (a very different meaning). Capitalising your hashtags and websites means… your message won’t be misunderstood.

Digital tools are just tools – there is a drive and assumption that the only benefits of getting people online are getting them into work… The benefits of digital inclusion are far beyond the world of work.

Advertise people’s rights and ways to IRL alternatives – public services have a duty to provide services and make ‘reasonable adjustments’. Burying a phone number, complaints procedure or office opening hours deep in a website is bad for business, and for public sector providers, breaches their statutory duties.

When someone comes in or calls do NOT direct them to your website – in the 21st century most people will have got your phone number from your website (not the yellow pages!)… if someone has come looking for a person it is because they need a person, not a screen.

Please contact mhairi@HEARequality.org.uk for more information.

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