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Illectronism: is everyone equal when faced with digital technology?

Digital technology has revolutionized the way we live and think about the present and the future, but it also creates inequalities: how can diversity and inclusion be synonymous with performance?

Fear, shame, isolation, discouragement, lack of time, lack of confidence in oneself and in the digital services of organizations ... 17% of the population is excluded.

Digital technology has revolutionized our lifestyles, it opens doors, it allows us to enrich ourselves intellectually and financially, but is it accessible to everyone ?

Imagine that some large companies exclude a large part of the population without knowing it, whereas digital technology is a powerful lever for integration on the economic level: saving time and money, as well as on the social level: strengthened social ties, autonomy in the process.

Illectronism, a digital exclusion that affects 17% of the French population

Illectronism is an exclusion in the strict sense of the word. It is defined by a digital inability that is presented by difficulties or even an inability to use digital tools, software or due to a lack or even total absence of knowledge.

In total, 17% of the French population is excluded.

Who is concerned? It is a whole panel of French people who are affected by this digital exclusion. Moreover, with the covid, the use of digital technology has increased and has almost become a norm, which has only reinforced the penalties of this so-called "fragile" population.

It may be mistaken to think that those who have the most difficulty with digital technology are the elderly, since according to Emmaus Connect, they still represent more than 5.7 million people (27%) over the age of 60 and 42% of those over 80.

However, the under 35s are also concerned, representing 15% and a good number of young people are in difficulty. Young people often know how to use social networks perfectly but find themselves failing on online digital services, preferring to refuse the obstacle and accentuating their distance from society.

All this leaves us with 14 million people who do not want to or do not know how to use digital technology in a society where everything is dematerialized.

We know that digital technology is a tool for inclusion to bring people together when situations / events do not allow it, but it is above all a factor of exclusion and therefore causes a risk of urgent rupture.

Social impact of digital technology and digital illiteracy

At a time when digital technology has become an integral part of our daily lives and almost every procedure is becoming paperless, such as paying bills, social assistance and taxes. It becomes important to have access to tools such as computers, tablets, smartphones, but also to an Internet network.

Young people, even if they are part of the generation born in the digital age, can also encounter difficulties. They know how to use basic tasks such as placing orders, following courses, talking to each other via Twitch, Discord or Twitter, but what about administrative procedures? What are their reactions? Knowing that this can trigger a feeling of shame in them, a feeling that is not well perceived by a young person.

Accessibility for a better digital performance

Accessibility means taking into account all the physical and mental capacities of each user, as well as their environment and conditions of use.

It is also a lever of ROI (return on investment) for companies. Indeed, the more the break points are removed or avoided, the more the number of potential customers increases because their use path is adapted.

People with motor disabilities may have difficulty using certain devices: accessing a website or mobile applications with one hand is much more accessible and comfortable. And for people with reduced mobility, it would be a matter of designing devices that are accessible with one hand, one finger or even speech.

There are disabilities that are not visible but which contribute to illectronism.

Color blindness affects 8% of men and 0.5% of women in France... What are the consequences? It is the inability to distinguish colors correctly. During their experiences of use, people with color blindness have a completely different interface of use much less obvious.

For example, the color progressions are complicated to visualize which makes the user experience very difficult and sometimes impossible.

As for dyslexics with a specific reading disorder, this results in difficulties in the acquisition of written language and in the automation of the mechanisms for mastering writing: reading, writing, spelling.

Have you ever been confronted with identification passwords such as: ZyH35Ee and had trouble identifying yourself after the first time, even with the sound option? Imagine those who don't have the same perception as us and may feel ashamed or can't do it and reject the action.

All these people suffer from a lack of accessibility to the digital world, they do not necessarily have a fragility in front of the digital world, so they do not necessarily suffer from illectronism. Illectronism is just another facet of the lack of accessibility to digital technology. The lack of knowledge, the lack of knowledge that some people may have despite themselves.

Some sites don't have telephone support in case of problems with connections, complex words: older people stop their steps mainly for these reasons. They also present genes in the access to the pages: the cookies in the foreground, the chat windows, the pages for other services

Reducing illiteracy = reducing the digital divide

Learning remains the key to reducing the digital divide. Emmaus, a digital school, and many other organizations provide solutions. Just like the association ACIAH, which fights for a more accessible digital.

Train people to digital, make digital more accessible, easier for all.

The government has begun to take hold of it by launching different actions. The implementation for example of a platform of daily digital needs, coupled with a telephone helpline.

The Senate presented in an excellent report on illiteracy in September 2020, 45 measures to fight against illiteracy. You can find a summary of this report and the full report online: http://www.senat.fr/rap/r19-711/r19-711-syn.pdf

The MEDNUM also acts on a daily basis to support the digital transition of territories.

Improving the social footprint of digital services

Illiteracy is a real challenge for society. According to INSEE (2019 study), 38% of the population lacks at least one key digital skill.

It is also a challenge for companies. Accessible courses for all mean more prospects, more users, more satisfied customers in the end, beyond even the societal issue.

Including as many people as possible is very important in the digital world. "Companies that practice an inclusive policy generate up to 30% more revenue per employee and a higher probability of success than their competitors" According to a Deloitte study.