Ethics and Safeguarding in the use of technology #AT4Lockdown

Facilitator: Stuart Lawlor, Sight and Sound Technology, Ireland

Ethics and safe guarding issues are of huge concern to us all as services and supports move online, and do so, at speed. This discussion covered some of the headline issues, whilst acknowledging that the situation is changing daily and that we must be able to address ethical issues in an equitable way and not lose sight of ethics and safeguarding in the use of technology, whilst moving to online platforms.

Specific issues related to going on line included:

  • It is the responsibility of organisers to ensure that on-line participants are safe.
  • Providers are working to increase security of platforms, including password protecting meetings (Zoom).
  • Issues around confidentiality for online-meetings, assessments etc.
  • It’s important at the beginning of every session, to ensure that people have safeguards. People are being ‘parachuted’ into these various on-line meeting(s) platforms etc and don’t really know/understand what they are doing.

Issues to take forward:

  • Are there particular frameworks/rationale that will guide services making difficult decisions around who gets what type of AT etc? Or who should develop them?
  • A multitude of different platforms (eg. Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, etc) are currently being used. How can we ensure that the IT firms whose platforms we are using can ensure safety when using their systems etc? This would make good business sense for them, as well as serving the needs of service provision. Building long term trust between providers and users of services will be important.
  • These platforms are conduits for AT. It would be very appropriate for CHAT to identify what are the rights of people with no access to these platforms. Eg: Woebot: (online DIY cognitive behavioural therapy series of apps: woebot.ie) operates in California, and is available 24/7. Users can talk to it about any difficulties you are experiencing in their lives. There may be huge advantages to this with the population becoming more digitally literate.It also brings with it GDPR questions: where is data held? How is consent ensured? How might it interface with local service supports?
  • Universal access to broadband is also an issue that needs to be addressed. It is about broadband coverage as well as financial access. It is a cost of disability issue which is currently being looked at by the Department of Employment and Social Protection. Can we work with other civil society organisations on this?

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