Digital Inclusion for Low- skilled and Low-literate People

Development – Digital Inclusion

UNESCO calling for feedback on guidelines for digital inclusion
11 April 2018
…In an an increasingly online world, people without the required digital skills and literacy – the 750 million people who cannot read or write and the many more who have low literacy – now face a double exclusion, not only from full participation in the real world but also from opportunities in the digital one.

There is a need to both develop the digital skills and literacy amongst this group, as well as create inclusive digital solutions that are suitable for the digital skills they have today in order to ensure inclusion and equal participation for all.

UNESCO Guidelines for Digital Inclusion for Low-skilled and Low-literate People
Recognising that apps and services, if designed appropriately, can provide an entry point for low-skilled and low-literate people into digital usage and can support improved livelihoods and skills development, UNESCO is currently drafting a set of guidelines for more inclusive design of digital solutions.

The draft guidelines have been developed in consultation with an international expert group, and are informed by a landscape review Digital Inclusion for Low- skilled and Low-literate People and a set of fourteen case studies.
There are many excellent guides on effective digital development and on how to practise user-centred design. In a way that complements and extends existing resources, UNESCO aims to focus the lens on low-skilled and low-literate users as much as possible with the guidelines…

Digital Inclusion for Low- skilled and Low-literate People
2018 :: 118 page
Executive summary [Editor’s text bolding]
The twenty-first century has seen the emergence of knowledge societies and digital economies
around the world. Underpinning these changes have been the proliferation of mobile devices, increased sophistication of computers, and cheaper and more widely available internet access. In 2015 the number of internet users had more than tripled in a decade – from 1 billion in 2005 to an estimated 3.2 billion (ITU, 2016).

The digital revolution has changed the way almost half the world lives and works, learns and socializes. From a livelihood perspective, it has affected many key sectors – including health, agriculture and government – and how essential services are delivered. Business transactions have become dramatically cheaper, faster and more convenient.

But what about those who do not possess the skills and literacy necessary to access the myriad services of today’s digital world, to fully participate in knowledge societies? How can digital solutions be designed to be more inclusive, and how can these individuals develop the skills needed to fully utilize the digital opportunities?

UNESCO and Pearson have partnered to research the answer to these questions. As a first step, this landscape review seeks to explore how technology solutions outside of the education sector can be designed to be more inclusive, accessible and usable for people with low levels of skills2 and literacy; what skills such people need to utilize effectively inclusive digital solutions; and what key characteristics of the overall environment are needed for successful implementation of more inclusive solutions. It is important to note that low literacy in this review includes young people and adults who are illiterate in the sense that they cannot read or write.

Five development areas and contexts – health, agriculture, government, displaced populations, and green and environmental practices – are foregrounded to help us understand the links between digital solutions, skills development and livelihoods. In line with the holistic development agenda of 2030, it was decided to focus outside of the traditional education lens, considering instead areas that contribute broadly to improving livelihoods and well-being. The five focus areas represent a cross-section of areas covered by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) where the use of digital technologies, especially for development purposes, is either well established for users with low levels of skills and literacy, such as health, or showing promise, such as for green and environmental services.

The landscape review aims to inform the work of digital solution providers, development partners and governments – to move towards the development and implementation of more inclusive digital solutions and raise awareness of the skills needed to use them. Thirty-two projects from at least twenty-five countries, in contexts both rural and urban, were selected for this review, to illustrate key characteristics of digital inclusion for the target audience…