Digital Inclusion or Digital Disengagement and Social Exclusion?

"Digital Inclusion: evolving accessibility and usability" [no longer available as of 11 march 2014] is the title of an interesting blog post that showed up this week. The author, Ian Crocombe, discusses what you can do to learn about the behavior of the users of public websites. As he reminds us, "when you're trying to communicate with at risk groups, you can reduce exclusion by having a good understanding of their digital behaviour." He points us to resources (in the UK) that have done the research some of us cannot afford to do ourselves.

Like the Digital Inclusion Team (aka the Delivery Innovation Team). Their definition of "digital inclusion" is

The use of technology either directly or indirectly to improve the lives and life chances of disadvantaged people and the places in which they live.

As more and more public services go digital, how many citizens can actually access that information? How many have access to a computer? How many have access to the internet? The Digital Inclusion Team investigated questions like these and prepared several reports with their results. They have also produced an excellent SlideShare show entitled "The Links Between Digital Disengagement and Social Exclusion" [nno longer available as of 11 March 2014].

You can download the Delivery Innovation Team Final Report.

Watch their video "Think About It". The subtitle says it all: "Using digital technology to tackle social exclusion".

Another valuable resource mentioned in Crocombe's post is Ofcom, the Office of Communications (UK). One of their areas of focus is Media Literacy in the UK Population. Making Sense of Media is Ofcom&339;s programme of work to help improve the online skills, knowledge, and understanding of UK adults and children. They initially produced a "Media Literacy Audit – Report on UK adults' media literacy" in 2006. Updated annual reports are available.  Updated

For detailed reports of all Ofcom research, see their Media Research Publications page and:

Ofcom defines media literacy as "the ability to access, understand and create communications in a variety of contexts" where those terms are further defined as

  • Access includes take-up of media devices, volume and breadth of use.
  • Understand includes interest and competence in using the features available on each platform, extent and levels of concern about content, trust in internet sites, trust in news, and knowledge of regulation and funding sources.
  • Create includes people's confidence in engaging with creative content, and their interest in carrying out creative tasks, notably using social networking sites.

There is a lot of thought-provoking material in just the executive summary. I will not begin to summarize here, but merely suggest that you read it for yourself. The issues covered provide an excellent start for your own work checklist of what you need to consider for your own product or service.

Do you know of similar resources in other countries? Share your knowledge in the comments fields.

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