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Kel Smith

Barrier Remover | Impact Technologist | Benevolent Gadfly | Word Arranger | Sonic Dabbler

Digital Outcasts

The blind person attempting to make an online purchase. The young girl who cannot speak due to a cognitive disability. The man confined to his home due to permanent injury. The single mother with a long-term illness who struggles to feed her family. The neurodivergent jobseeker trying to launch their career.

Digital access to employment, education, healthcare, companionship, and security is essential in today’s world. With one in six people worldwide currently living with some form of a disability, the term "outcast" covers a wide continuum of critical life impacts. As the number of people with disabilities increases, poorly designed products and services risk alienating this important and growing population.

“Digital outcasts” is a term used to describe those left behind the technological curve, due either to a lack of inclusivity or attributes (social, economic, and political) commonly associated with disability. The legacy of human-computer interaction is scaffolded upon the efforts of the disenfranchised user, however, evinced by the role disability has historically played as a catalyst for design innovation. Taking a grass roots approach to creative problem solving, digital outcasts are driving transformation that benefits users of all abilities and backgrounds.

Citing real-world case studies spanning law, healthcare, creative arts, and social science, the Second Edition of Digital Outcasts: Moving Technology Forward Without Leaving People Behind will examine the emergent cultural impact of inclusive design on today’s industrial landscape. Taking into account new legal and technological perspectives, this revision stands as an update on the progress we’ve made—and how far we’ve yet to go.

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