Engaging Citizens with Disabilities in eDemocracy

Deborah Stienstra, Lindsey Troschuk

Abstract


We evaluate access for people with disabilities in two Canadian federal government eConsultations — the development of its Innovation Strategy and as part of the Parliamentary sub-Committee on People with Disabilities consultations around the Canada Pension Plan — Disability hearings. From qualitative interviews with government and the disability community as well analysis of key documents, we illustrate what worked in ensuring access for Canadians with disabilities and what served to create additional barriers to access. We suggest, first, that accessibility is not the same thing as usability and requires meeting, at minimum, commonly held standards of access. Secondly, we argue that access is not enough to bring people with disabilities into eConsultations. Proactive measures to reach people experiencing a wide spectrum of disabilities are essential to "enfranchising" people with disabilities in eDemocracy. Addressing both access and inclusion are simply good public policy, not extraordinary measures to address a minority population.

Keywords


Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs); citizen engagement; eDemocracy; disability; eGovernment; Canada Pension Plan-Disability; innovation strategy; usability; community access programs; social and political access; consultation tools

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18061/dsq.v25i2.550

Copyright (c) 2005 Deborah Stienstra, Lindsey Troschuk



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