Sunday, January 21, 2007

Giving a Voice to the Hard to Hear

Getting on top of the hearing problem ...

"The following is a second brief extract from "Informing Digital Futures: Strategies for Citizen Engagement" by Leela Damodaran and Wendy Olphert. This one looks at those who don't get heard and how to include them. The book was published by Springer in late October 2006. (The extract has been slightly edited to appear here.)

The need to engage with all citizens in order to design ICTs which can be used successfully by the general public has been emphasised repeatedly. Many of those at risk of exclusion may for a variety of different reasons, be ‘hard to hear’ by planners, policy makers and designers. These groups include, for example, the elderly, the disabled, young people, ethnic minorities, those on low incomes, the homeless or itinerant groups. Many governments have stated their concerns and objectives to extend the benefits of ICT to all citizens, including those regarded as coming from such marginalised groups. Certainly in the UK, the ‘hard to reach’ or the ‘hard to hear’ are attracting increasing attention, in fact rather more than other citizens. The Digital Inclusion Panel was set up by UK Government in 2004, bringing together stakeholders from the public, private and voluntary sectors. The aim was to identify groups most at risk of digital exclusion, identify future actions that might encourage digital take-up, and to make recommendations about how industry, government and the voluntary sector can work together to drive a ‘digitally United Kingdom’. There have been many other initiatives supported by other government departments in the UK such as the Home Computing Initiative (HCI), which encourages employers to loan PCs for home/flexible working. A number of community-led initiatives (e.g. Access to Broadband Campaign, Community Broadband Network) also address social exclusion issues, including geographic isolation. There are thought to be around 400 such community projects with varying degrees of sophistication and impact."    (Continued via Usability News)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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