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"Considering the specific needs of the people we are designing for"-Designing Inclusive Digital Interventions

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Abi Gleek
Abi Gleek Digital Design Strategist  

"Considering the specific needs, contexts and priorities of the people we are designing for"- Designing Inclusive Digital Interventions

As part of our Inclusivity Month, Digital Design Strategist Abi Gleek delivered training on digital inclusivity to our members to help them design and run inclusive digital interventions. In this blog she shares her Digital Inclusivity Framework.

This year, YBI has been working with a group of members to develop an inclusivity toolkit to help members to reflect, plan and take action to become more inclusive organisations delivering more inclusive programmes. Digital inclusion ensures the benefits of the internet and digital technologies and services are available to everyone, this is especially important as we continue to digitally deliver services, training and support.

Due to COVID-19, members moved their training, services and support online but some felt that due to the speed of this transition, they hadn't had the space to think about how to do this inclusively.

I’ve had the pleasure of developing a set of practical resources and tools to support YBI members to design and run inclusive digital interventions. This includes a framework to help members conceptualise digital inclusivity.

Digital Inclusivity Framework

There are many factors influencing whether a given digital initiative is inclusive for a given individual.

That person must be practically able to be included and motivated to join in.

Then there are factors associated with who that individual is, and the society they live in, which may influence their ability and motivation.

Ability

There are many dynamics which shape the extent to which an individual has the practical ability to be included in a digital intervention. This might include the technology availability. Do they have access to a device and a reliable power source? What type of device do they have? What is the connectivity like in their environment?

Then there’s the accessibility of the design of the digital intervention. For instance, if the design is fully audio content, this requires an individual’s ability to hear well. We might consider how affordable it is for an individual to own and maintain the digital device required to access your digital intervention. How much will data cost? A digital intervention relying on streaming or downloading large video files or video-call participation, requires spending a lot of money on data. Finally, we need to consider digital literacy. To be practically able to access any digital intervention, some level of knowledge and skill is required.

Motivation

The next section of the framework considers the factors shaping the extent an individual is motivated to join in with the digital intervention. This might include the extent to which they understand the value proposition– is the benefit and direct relevance clear to them?

Then we might give attention to promotion and engagement- do they feel actively encouraged and included in what’s on offer? We should also consider how a sense of self-efficacy might impact motivation- do they feel confident in their ability to take part in the digital intervention, and to make the most of it? Finally, we should consider how trust and feeling safe might impact engagement motivation.

Individual

For the lower two sections of the framework, we start to consider factors influencing how any individual is affected by the dynamics of ability and motivation.

So firstly, the individual section- personal factors influencing how any individual is affected by the dynamics of ability and motivation. These factors include gender, age, socio-economic status, health and disability status, income/employment status, their level of traditional literacy, and their living environment (urban/rural).

Social

The final section of the framework refers to social norms that govern and shape how likely an individual is to be able and motivated to benefit from a digital intervention. These will be highly specific to the context, but an example to consider might be social norms potentially influencing a woman’s ability to access digital devices. In some contexts, it might be the norm for women not to own devices but must borrow one from their father or husband.

When designing digital interventions, it’s important to consider all 4 aspects of the framework. For example, a typical approach to driving digital inclusivity has been to provide devices or pay for mobile data credit. In the case of YBI member programmes, this certainly increases a young person’s physical ability to access the training or mentorship. However, it may not address their motivation, their trust in digital services, or the social dynamics affecting how they will use that device.

Tackling ability helps us minimise exclusivity. Tackling motivation and ability helps us aim for an active focus on inclusivity. And underpinning all our design, we must consider the specific needs, contexts and priorities of the people we are designing for.

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