Bridging the age-based digital divide through inclusive design: an action research on the adoption of inclusive design in small e-government context

Hammad, Faisal (2017) Bridging the age-based digital divide through inclusive design: an action research on the adoption of inclusive design in small e-government context. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This research looks at using Inclusive Design as mean to bridge the age-based digital divide, by conducting Action research in a Local Council in the UK. Research on the digital divide looks at the inequality in technology access between different demographical characteristics. While this is very useful to highlight access inequality, it fails to address the steps required to bridge the gap. Some research even suggested that the digital divide is bridged and that research in this field is irrelevant. This is due to the narrow focus of some researchers about the digital divide. The focus should be not on whether older people possess Information and Communications Technology (ICT) products; it should be on how they use their products and what we can do to improve the person-technology fit. On the other hand, inclusive design has been a main driver to ensure that buildings and products do not prohibit people with disabilities from utilising the building or product. However, there is limited research about the extension of inclusive design practices in Information Systems (IS), particularly interface design and system design. Most of the current design guidelines and best practices do not provide a holistic view of the inclusive design process, thus leaving the designers on their own in terms of producing an easy interface for users, by just merely implementing the accessibility guidelines provided by the W3C to ensure inclusivity of the website or online service. Assuming that inclusivity is reached only by including screen readers and magnified modes to prospective users.

The aim of the research is to provide a clear picture to discover the main challenges to Inclusive Design as well as provide a holistic and thorough inclusive design metric that allows designers to ensure that their proposed website or online service is inclusive of users from different age groups and capabilities. This design methodology can customisable according to the website or online service requirements, highlighting the important features to ensure inclusivity.

Using Action research as methodology to investigate and improve design practices in a local council. The research employed a mixture of research methods to understand and intervene in the creation of an inclusive e-service during the implementation of the Care Act 2014 in the Local Council. First, semi structured interviews were conducted to provide insights of the changes that the Care Act 2014 which brought upon social care and the way that social care services are being provided in the county. Then, observations were performed during the design sessions of the online services in the Local Council to see how the design process is being carried out to ensure that the website is inclusive of all prospective users. Finally, when the website is fully developed it was tested on various users with from different age groups using the inclusivity index developed as part of the evaluation phase of the design methodology. In addition, interviews with older adults were conducted to understand the issues that make them using ICT difficult so the needs of these users were documented to help in the design process later on.

The research indents to advance knowledge about inclusive design from practical and theoretical perspective. Practically, this research will help web designers and organisations looking to cater online services to as many people as possible and design methodology that fosters inclusivity. Moreover, this will help older adults to use online service by themselves, thus ensure that they can remain independent and exercise control over their needs from the government or otherwise. Theoretically, this research will help to shed the light on the digital divide and the ways to bridge this divide. By creating an inclusive design methodology that can fundamentally address the causes of the divide rather than just simply patch existing design methodologies.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Wastell, David
Chesney, Thomas
Keywords: digital divide, information systems, inclusive design, older adults
Subjects: H Social sciences > HC Economic history and conditions
H Social sciences > HM Sociology
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA 75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > Nottingham University Business School
Item ID: 40159
Depositing User: Hammad, Faisal
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2017 04:40
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2017 16:50

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