Lab members will share our Diverse Voices method for more inclusive tech policy at the Partnership for Progress on the Digital Divide conference, including analysis of a recent case study with the Washington state Access to Justice Technology Principles.
Closing the Expertise Divide: Engaging Under-Represented Communities with the Diverse Voices Method to Modernize Access to Justice Technology Principles
Policy that aims to promote digital inclusion must meaningfully engage stakeholders from under-represented communities. Current public engagement methods tend to reify a divide between legal and technical experts on the one hand, and laypeople on the other. In 2015 the University of Washington’s Tech Policy Lab developed the Diverse Voices method, which lessens the divide between under-represented communities and experts by acknowledging these communities as experiential experts while soliciting their feedback on late-stage tech policy documents.
This presentation reports on a case study of the Diverse Voices method on revisions to the Washington state Access to Justice (AtJ) Technology Principles, which guide the procurement and use of technology in the state court system and serve as a model for others aiming to improve access to justice. We facilitated panels for proposed revisions to the AtJ Technology Principles with experiential experts representing formerly incarcerated, immigrant, rural, and legal communities. Each panel consisted of 3-6 experts, at least two of whom had lived experience as a group member. Panelists identified significant shortcomings in the revised principles which point to ways to improve access to justice and mitigate technology as a barrier. Panelists’ feedback received widespread uptake, with AtJ adding two new principles—to retain human touch and ensure language access—as well as 11 other substantive changes. The revised principles are under review by the state Supreme Court for adoption. This case study demonstrates the effectiveness of the Diverse Voices method to elicit meaningful stakeholder insight while closing the expertise divide.