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Improved UX reduces inequity
By Alyssa Levitz
Phone lines, or other high-touch customer support channels like in-person appointments when safe, are an important part of the UI system; there are some kinds of issues that can only be solved via a synchronous, human-to-human conversation. They are even more important for those with lower digital fluency or less internet access.
Black and Latinx adults are 2-3 times less likely than their White counterparts to be digitally literate. Having a better user experience, including the use of plain language (both in English and when translated), not only increases the likelihood that everyone can effectively navigate the UI system on their own, but it also reduces the need for high-touch customer support channels for those with higher digital literacy. Chatbots and other digital self-services to answer questions or resolve issues would be similarly helpful.
The improved UX needs to include clear designs for mobile devices. Black and Latinx adults are 25% less likely than White adults to own a laptop or desktop computer, an inequity which is compounded by the closing of libraries and other public spaces where such devices are typically available.
- For the 14 things you can do that will most improve your UI system's user experience, see Section 5, Stage 2, Recommendations 2.3 of: "Centering Workers—How to Modernize Unemployment Insurance Technology," by The Century Foundation, NELP, and Philadelphia Legal Aid; October 5, 2020.
- For a deeper understanding of how digitizing processes is important yet can deepen racial inequities -- and considerations for preventing that, see: Section 6: The Digital Divide & UI Modernization: States' Moves to Online Applications Worsen Accessibility from New America's New Practice Guide's Report on Unpacking Inequities in Unemployment Insurance.