Digital Inclusion Funding

Understanding the Impact of Digital Inclusion and Online Learning in Indigenous Territories

This proposed research project aims to explore the challenges and opportunities related to digital inclusion in one Indigenous territory and one urban Indigenous community. Overarching research questions to be explored:

  • What are challenges and opportunities related to access to computers and Internet services?
  • In what ways do issues related to digital inclusion impact accessibility to online learning programs?
  • How can Indigenous learners be empowered to use digital technologies for the purpose of online learning?

The proposed research will inform the development of a proposal for a fully online program delivery model targeting Indigenous learners with relevant wrap-around services at Algonquin College. It will support a greater understanding about digitally excluded populations in the development of online learning activities and student supports. Moreover, the proposed model would be an exemplar for other colleges and universities that seek to develop online learning opportunities for Indigenous audiences.

Partner Institutions:

Lead Institution: Algonquin College

Grant:

$20,000

Project Type:

Accessible and Usable Security: An evaluation of screenreader users’ online security and privacy strategies

Despite the advances in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0), many visually impaired users are struggle to complete simple tasks online due to usability issues. These obstacles can have detrimental effects on levels of security and privacy; however, academic research rarely explores the intersection of web accessibility and usable security. This project explores the webbased barriers that screen-reader users face while identifying and managing digital threats. We will take a two-phase approach that includes an expert evaluation and a user study with visually impaired individuals. The outcomes will include practical recommendations for fostering accessible, online security and a short-video/audio workshop to share the project’s main findings with the sight-loss community and related industry professionals. This project is of timely importance as the January 2020 compliancy deadline upheld by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disability Act (AODA) is fast approaching.

Partner Institutions:

Lead Institution: Carleton University

Grant:

$20,000

Project Type:

Digital Inclusion of Marginalized Seniors: Access to Health Care Information

This project will focus on the access and adoption areas of digital inclusion. Access research will focus on the barriers faced by seniors from further marginalized groups in their attempts to become digitally literate. The three marginalized groups being researched are Indigenous, immigrant, and rural seniors, and their digital literacy in relation to health care information is the focus. Findings from this research will then be carried into adoption research, which will focus on how the aforementioned barriers impact their ability to become digitally literate.

Partner Institutions:

Lead Institution: Fanshawe College

Grant:

$19,150

Project Type:

Building Financial Literacy through Digital Inclusion Partnerships with Indigenous Communities

Using a qualitative research methodology, this project will explore the potential uses of digital inclusion initiatives based on access to online learning materials for building financial literacy in Indigenous communities. The researchers will strengthen McMaster University’s close ties to the Six Nations of the Grand River, the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, and the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne to convene and conduct focus group discussions and one-on one interviews with community members, followed by a one-day symposium for all participants hosted at McMaster. The data collected will inform a set of recommendations to be used as the basis for subsequent practical interventions aimed at leveraging digital learning technologies to enhance financial literacy in Ontario’s marginalized communities.

Partner Institutions:

Lead Institution: McMaster University

Grant:

$19,900

Project Type:

Digital Inclusion for Unpaid Caregivers

There is an opportunity for digital technologies to support access to information and connect caregivers. We will identify the extent to which caregivers experience digital inclusion by examining their use of digital tools and types of digital supports they would find useful. Some high level research questions include:

– What are some new and innovative ways in which digital technologies can create strong and meaningful social networks for caregivers who may be socially isolated?

– How can we best use digital tools to support caregivers in accessing high quality and relevant information related to complex healthcare challenges?

– How can digital tools enhance participation by underrepresented groups?

– What kinds of digital tools are most effective to support caregivers in their responsibility in providing safety for vulnerable populations and responding to emergencies when working in isolation? To undertake this research, a literature review, interviews and development of recommendations for enhancing digital inclusion will be undertaken.

Partner Institutions:

Lead Institution: Ryerson University

Grant:

$20,000

Project Type:

Bridging the digital divide in workplace safety education

A digital divide exists in that vulnerable workers (younger, older, underemployed, precariously employed, immigrants) employed by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) do not have access to the safety knowledge and support resources that workers employed by large enterprises have. This project is intended to investigate the effectiveness of using e-learning products as the form of digital technologies, in order to deliver process safety education. A broad-based e-learning introduction to the preventive aspects of Process safety Management (PSM) will be developed and made available for workers and employers in small and medium sized businesses. An electronic survey will be conducted before and after completion of the e-learning modules. This data will be analyzed for correlations with employment data from Statistic Canada and injury data from the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board. The findings will enable the design of more effective e-learning solutions to bridge the digital divide in safety education and reduce workplace injuries.

Partner Institutions:

Lead Institution: University of Toronto

Grant:

$19,163

Project Type:

Making Big Data Accessible: alternative forms of data representation and analysis for blind and partially-sighted users

This research project will pilot the production and use of physical ‘data literacy objects’ intended to promote data literacy for blind and partially-sighted citizens. Using inclusive design methods and 3D printing, the research team will develop and explore novel forms of data representation in order to promote greater accessibility to data sense-making practices.

Partner Institutions:

Lead Institution: University of Toronto

Grant:

$19,630

Project Type:

Facilitating the adoption of intelligent assistive technology by older adults through the development of high-fidelity simulation experiences for nursing education: Supporting technological and digital inclusion for older adults now and into the future

This study will seek to develop a range of high-fidelity simulated experiences for nursing students to assist older adults in the adoption of intelligent assistive technology to support aging in place. Using a mixed-methods research approach, a prototype clinical environment with intelligent assistive technology will be developed; related clinical case scenarios, and a range of focus groups and pilot testing will be conducted to develop insights to educate nursing students to the role these forms of technology can have in the lives of older adults. Implications arising from this study will provide educators and technology developers important insights related to how best support the adoption of these forms of intelligent assistive technologies into the lives of older adults to support their digital inclusion.

Partner Institutions:

Lead Institution: Western University
Collaborators: Wilfred Laurier University

Grant:

$19,996

Project Type:

Identifying how patient portals may be effectively used among mental health patient populations in Ontario to support digital inclusion

The goal of this project is to identify how patient portals that provide patients with access to their own health information may be effectively used by mental health patient populations in Ontario to enhance digital inclusion. We propose completing a review of the literature, and conducting focus groups of various populations of people with mental health challenges and their family members. Findings of this study can be used by organizations implementing patient portals to best select portal functionalities specific to mental health populations, as well as be able to complete a technology evaluation that is reflective of patient needs. This research will be done through a collaboration between universities, a mental health organization, researchers, health professionals, mental health patient populations and family members.

Partner Institutions:

Western University

Grant:

$20,000

Project Type:

Get in the Game: Re-Coding the Margins

This research agenda seeks to respond to the question “how can marginalized groups and communities be empowered in the design and use of digital technologies?”. We propose to offer computer science training through game design to single mothers in Toronto, Ontario who self-identify as novice computer users. In recent years, we have seen an international rise in women and girl informal learning programming (Girls Make Games, Ladies Learning Code, XX Games, Pixelles, Dames Making Games). Despite the inclusion orientation of these types of projects, they tend to be accessible to some more than others. Single mothers may lack the ability to participate for a number of reasons including child care, work (domestic and professional) and financial costs. This proposed research will directly target that underserved community, seeking to learn about how to best support the development of significant technology skills in a population that is often overlooked.

Partner Institutions:

Lead Institution: York University

Grant:

$20,000

Project Type:

SOCIAL MOBILITIES APPLICATION FOR REFUGE, TRUST AND TRANSITION (SMARTT): Content Identification and Formation Phase

SMARTT aims to develop digital/online interventions that combat the marginalization of persons fleeing conflict and persecution: Syrian refugees newly settled in Canada through the federal government’s Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program. SMARTT builds on cutting-edge empirical findings so as to address two of the Digital Inclusion target areas: Access – empowering marginalized groups and communities in the design and use of digital technologies; and Application – the development of an innovative social intervention which utilizes digital technologies to facilitate the enhancement of strong and meaningful social networks for socially marginalized and isolated individuals and groups.

Partner Institutions:

Lead Institution: York University

Grant:

$19,979

Project Type:

Beyond Words… and Towards Digital Accessibility: SafeHome App to Promote Safe Environments for Persons Living with Dementia

In Ontario, an estimated 228,000 people are currently living with dementia, with an expected increase among people over the age of 65. Caregivers, play an important role in the lives of persons with dementia (PWD), yet they often have little formal support and experience high rates of burnout and distress. This innovative project will address this challenge by digitizing one element of a face-to-face workshop designed to provide caregivers of PWD with effective communication strategies. Specifically, we will focus on aspects of the physical environment for purposes of enhancing communication, so that geographically and culturally marginalized caregivers can access this resource digitally. The content will be converted into an App format that will include text files adaptable to several prevalent languages spoken in Ontario. This will enable marginalized populations to have better access to relevant content at any time and from any distance and allow new ways to support PWD and their caregivers.

Partner Institutions:

Lead Institution: York University
Collaborators: George Brown College
University of Toronto

Grant:

$19,634

Project Type:

Digital Literacy, Access and Inclusion for Young Adults with Developmental Disabilities

This project will address eCampusOntatio’s focus on digital inclusion, inequity, and barriers and facilitators to access digital technology. We will focus on young adults with developmental disabilities (YADD), a segment of our society that are traditionally marginalized or excluded from mainstream digital-related discourse. We will address the research question: How do YADD access digital technology in support of four areas of their transition needs (education, employment, community living, and community integration)? The project applies a community-based qualitative study approach that will be guided by input from its Advisory Committee. Data will be collected through 10 in-depth interviews and two focus-groups with YADD and caregivers of YADD. A scoping review of extant literature will also be completed. Knowledge dissemination will be achieved through digital and print formats.

Partner Institutions:

Lead Institution: York University

Grant:

$20,000

Project Type: