Annecto is one not for profit community inclusion organisation starting to understand the benefits of using digital technology to promote inclusion. The independent social purpose organisation works alongside other organisations to advocate for people with disability, older people, families and carers.
In his work as part of the annecto team, Digital and Social Design Advisor Josh Fartch promotes activities, programs and policies that further annecto’s purpose to connect individuals and communities to realise an inclusive society.
Josh Fartch is Digital and Social Design Adviser at Annecto, a non-profit that work towards a more inclusive society by advocating for the elderly and people with disability. In his work, Josh promotes activities, programs and policies that further Annecto’s mission of ’increasing social, civic and economic participation’.
A lot of annecto’s work is generally targeted toward “working with smaller groups of people” Josh said. “A presentation setting for us is about holding conversations, and it’s important to make sure that everybody’s involved.”
Last November, he used Zeetings’ live Polls feature at the annual conference for the Australian Society of Intellectual Disability (ASID), an association created ’to improve the quality of life for people with an intellectual disability’. According to Josh, his first time using Zeetings, “was a bit of an eye-opener for us about what’s possible.”
Traditionally, people with disability haven’t had many opportunities to directly engage with the academics, researchers and policymakers who attend conferences. ASID established a committee at the 2015 conference to boost participation and engagement which included other social purpose organisations SARU (Self-advocacy Resource Unit), Golden City Support Services and Latrobe University.
Working with this group Josh incorporated Zeetings Polls into multiple keynote addresses. “We were there to support speakers who were involved and talking about reaching out to people with disability and how to make that a more inclusive experience for everybody. It would be great to see more of a two-way conversation,” explained Josh.
“We’re big on giving people a voice in those sort of situations, which takes a lot of work and is a big difference from just talking to one hundred people in a conference,”
Before the conference, the inclusion team also recorded videos with people with disability while they discussed issues that would be addressed at ASID. “We took time to do that properly so people could have time to develop their thoughts,” said Josh, who intercut the vox populi clips with Zeetings Polls questions during the conference. “It really made a difference,” said Josh. “Seeing people with intellectual disability answering these questions on the big screen like that helped to ground the conversation and make it really authentic.”
Getting everyone in a conference session on the same page is hard work, but using Zeetings Polls to capture everyone’s attention was “easy and enjoyable,” said Josh. “It helped to shift the conference overall, making it more of a conversation over the three days, and giving people a sense that they really were more involved in a way that many had never felt before at past, similar conferences.”
“It helped to shift the conference overall, making it more of a conversation over the three days, and giving people a sense that they really were more involved in a way that many had never felt before at past, similar conferences.”
“Some past attendees noted that there was a visible presence of people with intellectual disability who were participating,” he said, adding that he plans to incorporate Zeetings into future presentations to promote engagement and gather data that can be shared with attendees. At the ASID conference, nearly 400 responses to questions about core issues were collected.
Zeetings Polls “helped to shift the idea of what these conferences were about, to make it more of an active research space,” Josh said. For ASID attendees with intellectual disability, Polls and video meant that “the difference was visible; you just noticed people getting involved more.”
During a session about the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), the national body that supports Australians with disabilities. One of the questions was, ‘does NDIS listen to people with intellectual disability?’ “We had a fairly positive response; 57% of the people said ‘yes’ and 43% said ‘no’ explained Josh.
“The software follows universal design principles, so it really includes everybody in terms of ease of usage,” said Josh. “As far as the interface went, it was really easy to use. It was a great learning experience, and really positive for everyone involved.” Feedback was positive from participants as well: “Zeetings was fun! I took my time thinking whether to vote yes or no. I thought it was important to really think about the question. I felt like people wanted to know what I thought.”
“Zeetings was fun! I took my time thinking whether to vote yes or no. I thought it was important to really think about the question. I felt like people wanted to know what I thought.”
“I think Zeetings was just one little breakthrough in trying to show people that technology can play a part by breaking down some of the barriers,” said Josh. “It can be an enabler and help facilitate some of these conversations as well.”