How do we know who isn’t online when we’ve moved completely online? How can we engage with those people, what do they need from us?
These are some of the questions we asked ourselves when we turned our focus to the question of digital inclusion.
The new COVID-19 landscape provides us with an opportunity to reassess the way we are doing things and consider the different ways that we previously and currently engage with people. We quickly moved our events and work online, adapting to the new way of working, and for many members this was happily a more accessible medium, for those who are geographically remote or cannot travel easily, have broadband and are comfortable using the internet. However, this is not true for everyone, and as with our in-person events we must strive to make our remote content as accessible as possible.
One thing we kept coming back to was the danger that assumptions could pose to us, both us making inaccurate assumptions about other people, perhaps assuming that people who are not online want to be online, or assuming that people will know what we have in place to make our events accessible. Like much of our work lifting up the voice of lived experience, the most important thing we can do is listen to what people say, instead of trying to fit their words to our own narrative.
With this in mind, we brought together Kirsty MacNeil (Aberdeen Foyer IMPACT project), Aaron Slater (Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations) and Oonagh Brown (Scottish Commission for Learning Disability) for an ALLIANCE Live podcast about the impact of Digital Exclusion that they have seen in their work throughout lockdown. We discussed the provocations below:
Provocation 1: What are the main ways that digital exclusion impacts the people you support?
Provocation 2: What has been the biggest change you’ve seen since the beginning of lockdown for the people you support?
Provocation 3: How can we ensure that the people who aren’t online, and don’t want to be, aren’t excluded?
Provocation 4: What support is needed to help people to get online/ back online?
Provocation 5: How can we ensure that the pace of delivery and flexibility that was proven possible during the pandemic is maintained? Is this realistic, or are there other ways to maintain the support?
Provocation 6: Virtually overnight, the entire world moved online. What does this mean for the third sector and those we support as we move into the future?