Storifying the Course – Week two: The Digital Divide

  1. This week’s lecture focused primarily on two subjects: the digital divide and website accessibility. The former refers to an inequality of connectivity in the online world, stemming mainly from issues of isolation or remoteness, as well as socioeconomic factors. The latter deals with issues of inequality for online users with disabilities or lack of functional equipment. For example, the importance of closed captioning was stressed for the benefit of both the hearing impaired, as well as viewers who may lack functioning speakers. In terms of both of the aforementioned topics, a movement towards equality and accessibility is stressed.
  2. This is a video I found particularly interesting in its explanation of the digital divide. It helped me to better understand exactly what the digital divide is and the importance of bridging the gap created by differences in socioeconomic class. The focus, according to Ericsson, the company of question in this video, is on empowerment: providing a service to people in remote locations or of a lower socioeconomic class and teaching them how to make use of it in order to benefit themselves. I believe that this is what bridging the gap is all about.
  3. Initially, I had imagined the digital divide as something remote and irrelevant to Canadian life. The first video touched on issues of a digital divide in the context of continents such as Africa. It was interesting, then, to read this article and gain a perspective of what the digital divide means on a more local level; what it means in my own country. Evidently, the digital divide, while perhaps more prevalent in the underdeveloped world, is a universal issue that we must work to resolve.
  4. We also discussed website accessibility during this week’s lecture. I realized that much of the work I have done is not, in fact, accessible for all users. I was interested, then, in discovering ways to make websites more widely accessible. I began researching different methods and happened across this one. I think it is encouraging to see that there are services available to help convert websites to fully-accessible sites, as for some this could be viewed as a daunting endeavour. However, in the future, I hope to keep accessibility in mind and apply what I have learned to my work by myself to ensure that it can be used by the widest audience possible.
  5. Because I plan to incorporate design techniques to offer full accessibility in the future, I decided to look up ways of how I can do this myself. This is important because it allows me to create an accessible website free of charge (as opposed to hiring someone to do it for me, as is the case with my first example). Furthermore, it educates me on how a person with a disability will interact with my website, and points out how can I optimize the user experience for them. I found this check list very helpful, and definitely plan to use it in the future.

    What are the advantages of making online information more widely available and how can we make universal accessibility possible? Express your answer in terms of both the digital divide and user accessibility.

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