According to research from the Royal Geographical Society, almost six million adults in the UK have never used the internet. This digital divide impacts on a person’s ability to access new and better jobs, causes barriers such as social isolation in an aging society and between socially excluded groups and reduces access to key medical and government services.
Many organisations across the private, public and voluntary sectors, such as the CarnegieUK Trust and Lloyds Bank, are researching and working on ways to improve digital accessibility across communities, addressing factors including motivation and skill level, prompting discussions on a person’s perceived interest or need for the internet and the cultural bias of current content alongside the ability, technology and security needed to upskill and access web applications. In a digital world where data phishing and identity theft are becoming more sophisticated, navigating the internet safely can feel like the biggest barrier to digital inclusion, for most of the population.
What exactly is digital inclusion, and how can you be certain that you’re being inclusive? The UK Government Digital Service (GDS) has outlined a six-point checklist:
- Start with user needs – not our own
- Improve access – stop making things difficult
- Motivate people – find something they care about
- Keep it safe – build trust
- Work with others – don’t do it alone
- Focus on wider outcomes – measure performance
Many more organisations are starting to address these digital inclusions, working towards ensuring clarity of safe communication between staff and customers, addressing the needs of the individual and providing support to customers who find the digital world intimidating and overwhelming. People are not born with digital skills, time is needed to understand technical terminology and functions – and what to do when something goes awry.
How could you be more digitally inclusive, either individually or as part of a wider group?