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  • Writer's pictureVioleta Trkulja

Bridging Digital Divides: Insights from the "Building Inclusive Pathways for Better Digital Services" Conference

Updated: Apr 15

Juliane Stiller beim Vortrag auf der Konferenz
© POD Maatschappelijke Integratie - SPP Intégration sociale

From March 13 to 14, Juliane Stiller, chair of our board, had the privilege of representing Grenzenlos Digital e.V. at an event hosted by the Belgian Presidency: "Building Inclusive Pathways for Better Digital Services". This conference, a cornerstone for discussions on enhancing digital inclusivity and accessibility across Europe, provided a rich platform for sharing ideas, solutions, and strategies to bridge the digital divide.

We were scheduled to present in the breakout session "Developing Human-Centered Services," focusing on our project, "Intro" - a basic digital skills program for refugees - and how we utilized DigiCo's Skillify platform for self-assessments. Skillify, as a digital skills assessment tool, plays a crucial role in supporting vulnerable groups by facilitating skills identification, training, and job matching, emphasizing the inclusive and accessible design of digital services.

Day One

The conference began with a keynote by Alexander van Deursen, who tackled the complex issue of digital inequality. His analysis underscored how individuals with lower digital literacy suffer more significantly from the digital transformation's negative impacts. This was a reminder of the broader implications of the digital divide and set the tone for the discussions that followed.

Throughout the day, we delved into various panels that explored critical questions, such as who is best qualified and what strategies are most appropriate to help those facing digital challenges. A significant gap was highlighted - the existence of digital offerings and services without clear pathways for discovery and effective use by those most in need. The discussions emphasized the importance of creating accessible guides and enhancing digital skills, particularly in the workplace, to make a broader impact.

Day Two

The second day started with Saskia van Uffelen's keynote on the importance of acquiring digital skills for the future, energizing us for the day's sessions.

One particularly moving break-out session led by Laura Pajula and Viivi Korpela from the Centre of Excellence in Research on Ageing and Care in Finland focused on including elderly populations in the digital world, highlighting the feeling of exclusion among elderly individuals due to the rapid advancement of digital technology. It was a stark reminder that inclusivity should span all age groups.

The session, where Léa Ichikawa from DigiCo and Juliane spoke about Skillify and Intro, was met with enthusiastic interest and engagement, sparking a discussion on the barriers to digital inclusive services. 

Reflecting on the conference, we are filled with gratitude for the meaningful discussions and exchanges on digital inclusion. The insights gained, the innovative solutions shared, and the connections made have left an indelible mark on our commitment to bridging digital divides.

As we move forward, the lessons learned and the partnerships formed at this conference will undoubtedly fuel our continued efforts to make digital services more inclusive and accessible to all.

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