Access and Diversity

Reducing inequalities and ensuring diversity in usage of, and benefit from, the Internet.
Stream Leader: Ellen Strickland


The growth in availability of the Internet has created, at times, a feeling of universal access and use, and the Internet is often promoted as a great leveller and force for democracy and participation. However there remain barriers to access which exclude many people in New Zealand and we still have an online environment which does not always include and promote the diversity of interests, languages, opinions and cultures which are a part of New Zealand. How do we address inequalities of access and ensure diversity in usage of, and benefit from, the Internet?

Sessions in this stream will explore issues of access and diversity, as key challenges for the future of the Internet in New Zealand. What are the challenges to access in New Zealand? How diverse is our online world and how can an inclusive online environment be supported and enabled? All sectors, including business, government and civil society, are vital in addressing these important issues. How can we work together to support an accessible, inclusive Internet and to address some of the challenges faced here in New Zealand?

A range of facilitators, each with experience and knowledge relevant to the session topic, will set the scene, share their own experiences and perspective, and then help facilitate open, roundtable discussions, where all participants can share and discuss their experiences and thoughts and collaborate on ideas for the future of the  Internet in New Zealand.


Barriers and Bridges to Digital Inclusion: Taking action in the community

Facilitator: Alistair Fraser and Di Das, Computers in Homes

Where ever they are based and however they are funded, whether they are located in a community hall, a caravan or working in peoples’ homes, there are a variety of digital inclusion projects all working to address barriers to Internet access and diversity here in New Zealand.  These types of projects, which work to build bridges to Internet access and inclusion by working with and for communities, are found all over the world. Here in New Zealand, they are a important ingredient in building a more accessible and diverse Internet in our country.

What kinds of Internet inclusion and training projects are taking place in New Zealand? What are these projects working towards? What are some of the successes being achieved? What challenges are being faced and what lessons are being learned? This session is for everyone involved and working with communities on Internet access and skills. It will be a forum for sharing, comparing, showcasing and collaboration.

Designing for All

Facilitator: Kevin Prince, Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind

The web is seen as a great enabler – the place where we can all go to find out information, work, socialise, play and trade but it’s not as open as many of us think. Have you ever thought about really designing for all?

What if you can’t see the screen or hear the audio? What if you either don’t speak English or are more comfortable with your native tongue? Are there cultural issues with the web? Do we all process and access information in the same way? This session aims to share knowledge and ideas around sensory, cultural, cognitive and other barriers to accessing the Internet.

Understanding Access & Enabling Diversity: Facts, figures and the future

Facilitator: Jennie Billot and Philippa Smith, World Internet Project

The World Internet Project NZ is a longitudinal study that maps the use of the Internet in New Zealand as well as the impact it has on daily life. Surveys undertaken in 2007 and 2009 of more than 1200 New Zealanders provide valuable information about Internet use and the 2011 upcoming survey will add further data to that analysis. With five out of six New Zealanders using the Internet (2009) understanding how it has changed the way we live is an important focus of our research. Access and diversity have been major considerations in the development of our survey questions, since looking at how various groups are affected by Internet technology is an important aspect of the research – whether this relates to information gathering, education, entertainment, communication, socializing or conducting business online. Knowing more about those people who don’t or can’t use the Internet is as important as learning about those who do.

This session will provide an opportunity for discussion around issues related to Internet use and non-use in New Zealand. What groups based on gender, age, ethnicity, area and income are most affected by the Internet? What are the implications of this usage? How important is the Internet to different groups and what is the potential outcome of this distribution? A resource sheet will display WIPNZ findings to inform discussion on the Internet and what it means for us as a nation.

Digital literacy: Navigating a connected world

Facilitator: Dave Moskovitz, InternetNZ Councillor

No matter how well-designed the latest Internet technology or application, is our ability to use and benefit from it ever truly ‘intuitive’? This session on Digital literacy addresses the set of skills and knowledge which must be learned and/or gained through experience to enable use and benefit from digital technology including the Internet. These skills are critical for users to be able to access the Internet and to gain benefit from it, and because of this digital literacy issues are also a serious barrier to inclusion and diversity on the Internet.

How in New Zealand do we ensure all people have the skills and understanding to use and benefit from the Internet and other ICTs? What exactly is digital literacy and how do you measure? What role does formal education play and what else can play an important role?

Human Rights and the Internet

Facilitator: Joy Liddicoat, Association for Progressive Communications

This session will provide a space to discuss and explore the Internet and human rights issues. What do human rights mean in an online environment?  In what ways does the Internet promote and protect our human rights and in what ways might our rights be threatened? How do these issues relate to our offline activities?

For example, the Internet is promoted as an open and uncapturable resource. However interference with access to and use of the Internet is frequent and growing in many parts of the world, for example, through government or private sector internet intermediaries blocking access to websites, filtering content, surveillance and data monitoring, and interference with privacy.   Interference with access to the internet has promoted, Finland and a range of other European countries, to make internet access a human right. This session will explore current issues in New Zealand and provide a forum for discussing how we can human rights beyond the keyboard and into the online spaces we create and participate in.