Developing Inclusive Tech Policy
All too often, policy development for emerging technology neglects under-represented populations. In response to this challenge, the UW Tech Policy Lab developed the Diverse Voices method in 2015. The method uses short, targeted conversations about emerging technology with “experiential experts” from under-represented groups to provide feedback on draft tech policy documents. This process works to increase the likelihood that the language in the finalized tech policy document addresses the perspectives and circumstances of broader groups of people – ideally averting injustice and exclusion. The Lab seeks to make this process available to any group wanting to improve a draft technology policy document in the following Guide: “Diverse Voices: A How-To Guide for Facilitating Inclusiveness in Tech Policy.”
What is the Diverse Voices Method?
The Diverse Voices method is distinct from the process of writing a white paper. Rather, once a draft of a tech policy document exists, the method can be employed to integrate input from experiential experts before a final version of the document reaches policymakers.
Main steps in the method:
- Select a tech policy document
- Surface relevant under-represented groups
- Assemble a panel of experiential experts who represent those groups to examine and respond to the tech policy document
- Synthesize panel feedback
- Provide panel feedback to tech policy document authors
Practical by design, the Diverse Voices method seeks to improve the inclusivity of tech policy documents in a manner that is low cost—both to tech policy document authors and to the experiential experts who provide critical feedback on those documents. To be clear: the Diverse Voices method improves inclusivity but it does not claim to be fully representative or comprehensive of diverse perspectives. Rather, the method helps to identify some critical aspects in the tech policy document that could be improved and to provide suggestions for those improvements. In brief, the method offers progress—better tech policy documents—not perfection.
We thank the expert panelists who helped us test and refine the Diverse Voices method. We thank those who provided helpful input on drafts of this guide: Hannah Almeter, Stephanie Ballard, Ryan Calo, Sandy Kaplan, Nick Logler, Emily McReynolds, and Daisy Yoo. We also thank The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Microsoft for their ongoing support, including funding the creation of this guide.
We welcome your questions and comments on the How-To Guide and its underlying process. Please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.