Achieving Digital Equity in a Post-Digital Era: Meeting the Challenge (Session 1)
- Running Time:
- 60 min
- Mary Bacica, Alana Kendrick, Kate Murray, John Simpson
Legal Aid BC’s Achieving Digital Equity (ADE) is a year-long research project funded by the LABC/Law Foundation Legal Research Fund. It examines the barriers to access and use of digital resources by lower income BC residents. The study explores digital issues and challenges, how many are affected, and what can be done to ensure people can access the services they need, even if they can’t go online.
The ADE study consisted of four components, using a mix of research methods:
- A literature review of relevant publications and statistics
- A population survey of BC residents, with an emphasis on lower income households
- User Journey interviews with lower income BC residents
- A survey, referrals tracking, and focus groups with intermediaries (e.g., community workers, advocates, Elders, and service providers), and LABC partners and client-facing staff.
Reports from the Achieving Digital Equity Project can be viewed at the project website: https://legalaid.bc.ca/about/reports/Achieving-Digital-Equity-Project. (Reports from the first two components are available. Remaining project reports are expected to be published in mid-November.)
This two-part webinar series on the ADE project will present key findings from the ADE project’s four components, summary insights emerging from this research, and implications for delivery of PLEI.
Session 1: Achieving Digital Equity: Literature Review, and Survey of BC Residents
The ADE literature review was a broad scan of more than 200 publications about technology barriers, issues in legal help-seeking, digital access to justice, and promising interventions. For the ADE population survey of lower income BC residents, The Sentis Group mailed surveys to 5,000 households across BC. Key insights generated by these two “big picture” research activities include:
- Digital technology access is best understood as a multi-dimensional gradient impacted by factors such as diversity, quality, affordability, and continuity.
- 44% of adult BC residents in lower income households, and 53% of those in very low income households, face one or more barriers to using the Internet, compared with only 18% of those in moderate to high income households. The most common barriers relate to technology access and costs. Barriers related to digital skill and comfort, and trust and privacy concerns, are also relatively common.
- Digital skill, comfort, and activities vary by income and age, among other factors; these differences are tied to inequitable opportunities to learn, use, and benefit from technology.
- BC residents are receptive to the idea of getting legal information or help online. However, compared with those in moderate to high income households, lower income residents are less inclined look for legal info online, less confident in their ability understand the info, and less apt to have a private space in which to go online. Across all income groups, the majority agreed that even if they searched for legal help online, they would still want help from a person or advisor.
Mary Bacica is a Senior Vice President with The Sentis Group and has over 30 years experience in the market research industry with a proven track record of designing and executing complex research studies. Mary has been working with Legal Aid since 2006 on various research initiatives. While Mary works with both public sector agencies and private companies, she has particular expertise in the areas of housing, low-income populations, employee engagement, financial services, and resources.
Alana Kendrick is a Senior Project Manager with The Sentis Group with six years of research experience. Along with working with Mary on Legal Aid research initiatives, she also serves as the Senior Project Manager for work Sentis does for Land Titles and Survey Authority BC, TransLink, the Industry Training Authority (ITA), BC Oil and Gas Commission and several other private sector organizations.
Kate Murray is the Lead Researcher for Legal Aid’s Achieving Digital Equity Project. Her over 15 years of research experience span community, policy-making and academic settings. Kate’s research work has included projects on housing, homelessness, racialization, and urban development; public policy participation and debate; equity and diversity; transit accessibility; and community-based healthcare. Kate has a PhD from the University of British Columbia. She lives and works on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.
John Simpson is a lawyer, and Manager of Community and Publishing Services (CPS) at Legal Aid BC. These services include public legal education and information through free print publications, websites, community outreach and training. John has worked in this field for the last 14 years. Before that, he managed other Legal Aid BC programs and was a poverty lawyer at legal aid offices.