The root causes of digital exclusion are still too easily brought back to a series of socio-demographics such as income, jobs status, education level or gender. A study by van Deursen and Helsper (2015) shows that digital inequalities amongst older adults depend upon life stage, social environment and psychological characteristics. In 2015, Mariën and Baelden developed a renewed conceptual model for those at risk of being digitally excluded. The model consists of eight ‘profiles of digital inequalities’ based upon five key risk factors in the social field (cf. income, education, participation, agency, wellbeing) and eight key risk indicators in the digital field (cf. access, attitude, digital skills, soft skills, media richness, autonomy of use, user practices and support networks), mapped across a continuum ranging from deep exclusion to deep inclusion. In Flanders and the Netherlands, this renewed model has proven to be successful for the development and deployment of customized digital inclusion strategies. This contribution presents the practical application of the 8 digital inequality profiles by civil society organisations, policy actors and an educational institution. Firstly, it addresses why and how the profiles were transformed into accessible and ready-to-use physical cards, graphically designed showing key features – both strengths and weaknesses – and how these physical cards were subsequently used by civil society organisations and policy actors to incite self-reflection processes and co-create customized digital inclusion approaches for each profile. Secondly, it explains how the model was translated into an accessible self-assessment instrument, allowing ROC Leeuwenborgh, a vocational training centre for teenagers and adults, to map the distribution of their students across the 8 profiles. In a following phase, participatory workshops will be conducted with the students and their lecturers, aimed to build a digitally inclusive and customized approach suited to each profile.
Henceforth, this article brings a significant contribution to existing research by arguing that achieving better digital inclusion strategies necessitates to engage in a shift from a sole technical approach and its focus on infrastructures and the provision of equipment, to take into consideration the social processes in which digital media are embedded.
Periode18 jun 201920 jun 2019
EvenementstitelDigital Inclusion Policy and Research Conference 2019
LocatieLondon, United Kingdom