Digital Access and Equity

Examining the impact of a connected, digitally-focused society.

Research Program Overview

Digital technologies have potential for overcoming social, economic and geographic barriers and improving outcomes in health, access to justice and economic inclusion. However, they also risk increased discrimination, differentiation and exclusion. Importantly, issues of digital equity are not just about access to technology, but also about language, content, comprehension and safety.

This research program supports interdisciplinary research examining the impact of a connected, digitally-focused society. It evaluates the presumptions about knowledge, language, accessibility and consent that inform the design and implementation of new technologies. It works to develop innovative and inclusive ways to make a technologically-integrated society a fairer and more equitable one.

This research program is led by Professor Jeannie Paterson and Professor Shanton Chang.

Explore Research Projects

Ethical and Equitable Digital Design Matrix for Community Engaged Research

Increasingly, community-engaged research projects use digital technology. They may use such technologies to recruit participants. They may be a way of disseminating the project findings, such as through hosting findings on a website or the development of other digital interventions.

These uses of digital technology can bring advantages to the project team including through enabling higher levels of access, impact and longevity in the project outcomes. However, reliance on digital technologies may also carry the risk of unintended or unforeseen consequences, which may risk undermining the purposes of the project.

For example, digital recruitment strategies may miss relevant participants with lived experience. Or, the digital output may not be accessible to the intended community of users; research participants may be denied a role in the ongoing governance of the digital outputs despite having co-created them, there may be insufficient resources for maintenance leaving an out-of-date orphaned tool.

We have developed a matrix to support the ethical and equitable design elements of digital technologies used in community-engaged research. This matrix correlates the stages of the project with the elements of ethical design. This produces a series of questions relevant to design, operation and governance of the digital tool at each stage of the project.

This matrix will continue to be work in progress, as ongoing research will be conducted to refine and improve on the matrix for use by researchers and organisations.

Download the Digital Design Matrix (PDF)