Digital Exclusion: Waiting for the Bus

By Janeen Harris, Leep Senior Project Officer

My fellow arts committee members and I were keen to start a Facebook group and I offered to demonstrate how it worked, particularly for those who were unsure about technology. Jodie* had some basic knowledge – she could take photos on her iPad and attach them to emails – and so I was taken aback when she shared her recent story of exclusion.

Jodie’s car on one occasion had broken down and was at the automotive repair shop. She needed to run a few errands, decided to catch the bus, went over to the bus stop and read the bus timetable that was posted there. The bus was scheduled for 9:20am, only a 15-minute wait… so she thought.

The time ticked over to 10:00am and she had now been waiting 55 minutes when finally the bus arrived. Jodie asked the bus driver about the timetable at the bus stop. ‘It is out of date’ he told her. She asked him for a new printed timetable. ‘You have to go online now, we don’t print them anymore.’ Jodie took her seat on the bus feeling deflated, as she didn’t know how to find timetables online. She hoped she wouldn’t have to catch the bus again!

Does it make you wonder – it certainly makes me wonder – how many more digital exclusion stories there are that we haven’t even considered? How many people are sitting at bus stops with out of date timetables missing important appointments? What other daily tasks have become difficult or inaccessible? Let’s not forget the exclusion from government services, issues with receiving utility bills, missing news from friends on social media and difficulty with applying for jobs, to name a few.

Leep enables people to use technology in an increasingly digital world. By building skills to get online confidently and connect safely we are preventing the spread of poverty and disadvantage, and ensuring everyone can imagine tomorrow together. We create digital citizens one-by-one, using volunteer digital mentors.

Find out more about Leep’s digital inclusion initiatives: find a digital mentoring hub; become a digital mentor; start a digital mentoring program.

* name has been changed