Building a technology inclusive agency: A case study of technology use by women in recovery
James H. Edwards, Michigan State University, United States
Michigan State University . Awarded
The development of low cost and practical information and communication technologies (ICT) has led to increased pressure on social workers and other human service providers to insure their clients are not digitally disenfranchised. In fact, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Standards for Technology and Social Work Practice require social work practitioners to insure their own access to technology as well as insuring access to technology on behalf of their clients. The first step in carrying out this mandate is to understand how, why, and for what purpose clients use ICT. Secondly, we must understand the role that human service agencies can play in insuring their clients are not digitally disenfranchised. To this end, the qualitative study presented here is comprised of two components: first, an exploratory study examining how women in recovery from chemical addiction view, use, and envision their use of technology; and second, an evaluative component examining an effort by their provider agency to promote digital empowerment through the use of computer access and training.
The findings suggest the participants were empowered through increased access to technology and increased computer skills. The agency struggled to maintain an adequate technology infrastructure for the participants, but found the intervention to be beneficial and consistent with its overall mission of empowerment. In general, the participants expressed an increased frequency of computer use outside of the training as well as increased confidence in their ability to use a computer. The participants expressed feelings of joy, excitement, pride and an overall sense of empowerment as a result of the computer training experience. This was evident by the perfect attendance at the trainings and confirmed in the statements by the executive director.
Edwards, J.H. Building a technology inclusive agency: A case study of technology use by women in recovery. Ph.D. thesis, Michigan State University.
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