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Feb 08, 2019 13:56:21

What does inclusion mean to you?

by @jasonleow | 868 words | 545🔥 | 584💌

Jason Leow

Current day streak: 545🔥
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I'm currently doing a design research project around digital inclusion, so I'm using 200wad to capture my personal thoughts and reflections about inclusion as the project progresses. Thoughts and comments my own. 

What is inclusion? 

What does inclusion mean to you? Were there moments when you felt excluded, segregated and demeaned by virtue of who you are (be it beliefs, colour, gender, disability)? How does it feel to be included in a community that matters to you?  

Inclusion is a hard thing to define. It can be many things to many people, and there can be truth in each person's own definition of it. Perhaps it's easier to define the opposite - what it means to feel excluded, because we tend to notice the sting of exclusion more saliently than when we are included. It's usually a negative feeling of hurt, resentment, frustration, or even anger. Remember that time when you couldn't hang out with the cool kids in school because they didn't think you were cool enough? That's exclusion. Or when someone who is blind cannot access a basic public service because the website is (unknowingly) only designed for sighted folks. Exclusion can be intentional, or unintentional. It can be situational, temporary or permanent. 

In what ways might we be excluded (digitally)? 

👁 Sensory - persons with sensory/visual impairment who can't see what's being shown on the screen designed only for sighted people. 

🖖 Dexterity - motor ability to even use the keyboard (due to physical disability or medical/health condition). If you can't even log in to a website because it needed you to use a keyboard to type in your username and password, then you're being excluded.

🗣 Language fluency, comprehension and communication - being able to read, understand the copy and/or communicate what you need (either due to general language ability, developmental/intellectual/speech/language impairment or disability). Imagine if a website was only available in say, Arabic or Japanese, a language you don't read. How do you even use the site? And when you approach support, they don't speak your language either, so you have no way to communicate with them. That's also exclusion.

📲 Digital savvy - This means how confident or fearful one feels about technology. This is something that's more about emotions. Sometimes people might be afraid to try out a new technology out of fear of breaking things, or doing something irreversible damage (like sending funds unknowingly to another party while using a banking app). If an app requires one to have a certain level of confidence in navigating and completing the tasks in order to benefit from it, then it excludes others who might not have that pre-requisite degree of savviness. 

☎️ Support resources - If you encounter a problem using a service, knowing how to access support resources to troubleshoot your issue is important. It can be a simple Google search, or finding the hotline or live chat on the website to get help. If your support is accessible in only a few ways, then the others who can't access it will be excluded. Support resources can be formal (via official hotline or support channels) or informal (via friends), and how often one can access this support.

💆‍♂️ Bandwidth - Bandwidth has got to do with one's cognitive/time/emotional/energy availability to deal with what's required when using a digital product. It can be either due to lack of time, stress, fatigue, or mental health conditions where you might be incapacitated temporarily or permanently. If your app requires users to respond within a strict time window (e.g. 2FA), then those who are not able to manage the task within the time window might feel excluded from your product. 

👩‍❤️‍💋‍👩 Social stigma - It is pretty classic exclusion or "-isms" which everyone would know about - can be due to beliefs, ethnicity, social class, gender, sexual orientation, etc. You're refused service or participation due to the social group that you are from. 

💪 Dignity and empowerment - The manner in which we receive help also plays a part in exclusion. People want to feel included, but if the process of 'inclusion' makes them feel smaller or demeaned (sometimes without them even being consciously aware of it), then it might very well feel like exclusion veiled as inclusion.  

📡 Location/Connectivity - data connectivity and remote/far locations can also exclude people especially if your app needs to download large number of assets before it's functional. 

📵 Privacy - inclusion often implies someone wanting to be part of a group, but the opposite is also true. It means being given the option to be excluded if I so choose to. This is similar to the GDPR practice of "the right to be forgotten" - where users can opt out of being tracked by third parties when using a website.

🔒 Security - inclusion means you can access the service even in times of catastrophe or failure, e.g. during identity theft, or server downtime. Just because the service is down (for you or for everyone), doesn't mean you're excluded from accessing it. Inclusion means having a variety of ways to access it. 


So what does inclusion mean to you? Did I miss out anything? 

  • 1

    @jasonleow Great breakdown of the different factors to promote inclusion. ??

    Perhaps social anxiety is another factor to consider. This may be more pronounced offline (many people with social anxiety feel more comfortable online), but there can be ways to ease people into social interaction (e.g. discussion prompts vs expecting users to initiate conversation).

    Self-exclusion is also a huge factor: how people opt out of engagement because they assume a product (or community) isn't for them. This requires changing people's self-perception and confidence.

    Best of luck, and it sounds like you're doing great work! ?

    Haider Al-Mosawi avatar Haider Al-Mosawi | Feb 08, 2019 10:17:33
    • 1

      @haideralmosawi interesting! Never thought of social anxiety, and how certain apps might bias people who are more 'extroverted' perhaps. Thanks!

      Jason Leow avatar Jason Leow | Feb 08, 2019 16:44:04
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