Internet Usability and Relevance: Promoting Digital Inclusion with consumer.gov
A central concern for practitioners working with adult immigrants and refugees is the provision of information on resources and services that can support these adults in establishing themselves effectively in their new countries of residence. In their desire to disseminate such information as broadly as possible, service providers and government agencies increasingly turn to the Internet as a medium of communication. Yet the characteristics of online information presentation can impede access for the very populations that such agencies most wish to reach. This paper outlines these characteristics of digital information provision and reviews research on usability and user experience. It then discusses ways of increasing digital equity, first through changes to web content and design and then through instruction that enables users to both find and interpret information that is relevant to them, and create content that meets their needs. Finally, it describes the specific case of a consumer protection and financial literacy information website developed for users with limited reading and digital skills by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL). Both the web content and a set of instructional materials developed to accompany it provide examples of an approach that promotes digital inclusion through access and development of digital skills.
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