Achieving Digital Equity in a Post-Digital Era: Meeting the Challenge (Session 2)
- Running Time:
- 60 min
- Kate Murray, John Simpson, Jai Djwa, Adam Fraser
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 2: Achieving Digital Equity: Workers’ Perspectives, User Journey Interviews, and Project Highlights
During ADE User Journey Interviews, 20 low-income residents from across BC were asked to describe their digital practices, experiences, and approaches to finding and using digital legal resources. To learn from community workers, over 430 intermediaries, and LABC staff and partners were asked about their clients’ experiences and their own experiences with digital legal resources. Key findings include:
- Legal issues are commonly associated with stress and/or trauma, and mental health issues. This creates barriers and makes emotional support important.
- Legal processes, concepts, and terminology are unfamiliar to many. Many people may not know what services are available and how to find them. Many associate legal help with legal representation; they are less familiar with other kinds of help (such as PLEI).
- Combined issues of digital equity and access to justice can create a “double set” of (digital and legal) barriers that can occur before seeking help, during searches, and while using digital legal resources. Community workers indicated that, apart from technology access, the most impactful barriers they observe are legal complexity, stress, and lack of comfort with technology.
- While many opt to search for legal help online (almost exclusively via Google), search engines mediate access to web resources in various ways.
- Supportive, knowledgeable, one-to-one assistance was frequently described as the most effective means of addressing widespread barriers relating to legal complexity; stress, overwhelm, and trauma; and lack of technology access and comfort.
- A person-centred, accessibility-focused, and multi-channel approach to delivery of PLEI can use digital design practices that mitigate barriers, while also providing complementary and/or alternative forms of help for people who are unable to access or use digital legal resources.
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.
Jai Djwa, BA, MFA, is Agentic Digital Media’s Founder, President and Principal. Jai is a certified Internet Marketing specialist, creative technologist and strategist with more than 20 years experience in Public Legal Education and Information. Jai’s credentials offer a unique blend of technologist and facilitator. He is an accomplished presenter and knowledgeable speaker on technology as well as a digital strategist, creative technologist and user experience expert. He teaches in Capilano’s IDEA School of Design and in Emily Carr University’s certificate program in UX. Djwa has worked extensively with PLEI organizations, such as the Law Foundation, Legal Aid BC, People's Law School, Community Legal Assistance Society, Community Legal Education Ontario and many other organizations. Agentic has also deep experience working in collaboration with Indigenous organizations in BC in a wide variety of sectors.
Adam Fraser is Adam undertakes Publications Development Coordination and Program Support at Legal Aid BC. Adam has a background in digital design and user experience. In his current role at Legal Aid BC, he works with community workers, intermediaries, and clients to improve access to and usability of public legal education information and tools.