Accessibility, equitable participation and representation.
Accessibility is not a »nice to have«. It is a human right. Marginalised groups must be active stakeholders at all stages of design and policy processes. Building *with* marginalized people, not *for* them.
»Just under half the world’s population still do not have access to the internet. Unconnected citizens can be found across the world, but predominantly the global south. Even those who are connected are not guaranteed an internet free from censorship or proprietary technology. Nationally as well as globally, the digital divide is recognised as a benchmark of government performance. The success of digital inclusion policies also indicates levels of inclusion in the digital economy.
The Covid-19 pandemic drew attention to the need for people to have access to technology that caters for their different needs – for example, that accounts for disability, is in a language they understand and that does not lead to harm. Not everyone is included in the development of technology and a result, we currently lack equitable participation and representation. This lack of equity and representation is grounded in the very structure of the internet that sees power and representation skewed towards a global minority of predominantly white technological developers with access to resources.
This principle is important from a feminist perspective as it provides a lens for critiquing current interventions around accessibility by taking into account intersectionality, power, representation and community involvement. Its focus on accessibility, equitable participation and representation is also important to feminists as it enables arguments in favour of access from a social justice perspective.
At the level of creation, this principle holds those who develop technology to account for the extent to which their designs centre users. It can also be used at the policy level, to assess whether and how far certain groups have participated in the processes of designing and implementing policy. Finally, this principle can guide feminists in organising and movement-building to ensure connection to and between the needs of marginalised groups and points of advocacy.«
Who can inspire us with their work?
»Pollicy is ‘a feminist collective of technologists, data scientists, creative and academics working at the intersection of data, design and technology to craft better life experiences by harnessing improved data.’ Pollicy focusses on ensuring accessibility, equitable participation and representation in its policy interventions and work towards social change. Feminist thinking shapes the design of all its programs. One of their recent projects was on Afrofeminist data futures, which captured the insights of feminists on issues of data. And when feminists who are not involved in the digital space are left out of conversations, as frequently happens, Pollicy welcomes them in.« — Chenai Chair