Beyond the Digital Divide


Although digital technologies have opened up opportunities for many people, there is still a “digital divide” where those who live with a disability and/or without resources and access are still missing out on the very technology that could benefit their lives.


In my film, I introduce a blind friend of mine, James Griffiths, who has moved beyond the digital divide of disability and low income to use the resources he has available to live a full and happy life.

I explain that it is not simply lack of economic and physical access to technology that contributes to the digital divide but also the attitudes of those who must face their fears and prejudices, as we all do, in order to learn something new.

Planning and editing

I planned the film using PowerPoint as a storyboard, but filmed my interview with James first, chose the clips and then developed my part of the script in draft videos (see rough clip below) before I replaced these with properly filmed clips.

This helped me to maintain continuity between the points James was making and the ways I wanted to emphasise those points. The draft videos also helped me to rehearse and polish my script ideas.

I framed myself and James close to the camera but with a different background to strengthen the idea that I was complimenting James’ thoughts rather than having a conversation with him.

This was the first time I had made an interview style video. Editing was complex because of the ‘jumping’ when clips are cut. The worst jumps were covered with overlay and others I left in the video because they were not too distracting and I needed economy of time rather than perfection in production.

As always, I spoke directly to the camera to increase engagement with the audience, but this time tried to be more animated.

I was aware that James would want to watch the video, so I made it an audio experience as well, reading the titles and credits instead of using animation.

The introduction clip of a girl on an iPhone was chosen to emphasise how normal an activity this is in modern life and how much many people take it for granted.

My overlay photos were my own. I introduced James in an overlay shot snapped from one of the clips. I also created a mock agenda photo to cover a jump in the film and to add visual interest.

AgendaThis technique was also used to emphasise points by ‘pointing a camera’ at what I was saying to make it stand out.

B footage in the form of close ups of James using the tablet was also included, as well as a blooper at the end to show that no technology works properly when you try to demonstrate how great it is, even when you’re blind!

My only use of music was during the blooper scene:

  1. To increase the comic element
  2. To avoid audio complexity during the main video

I was spoilt for research articles but chose Vincente and Lopez (2010) because that article worked so well with the points James had made about the various factors which effect digital use amongst those living with a disability, especially blindness.

Challenges and lessons

The first challenge was working in an interview setting. Although James speaks eloquently, I realised I would need to explain how I was going to shoot the footage and give him audio cues. I find it easier to film in short clips so I counted down “3…2…1” after asking James a question and said ‘camera off’ when the cut was finished. I also requested he answer the whole question as a full sentence such as “When I first started using my iPhone I didn’t know how to use it…” as this is easier to edit than a blank answer such as “…I didn’t know how to use it.”

The other challenge I faced was trying to maintain continuity between my filmed clips. For example, I had to use the background in my clips– specifically the stem of the orchid – to place me in the same position for each cut.

Also. as mentioned before, editing was complex because taking out a phrase causes the video to jump: I had to decide if losing that few seconds of footage was worth the jump. It also takes skill to remove one word without having annoying remnants on either side like a bad stutter.

A smaller challenge was that James can’t sign a permission document so I simply filmed him giving permission.


I thoroughly enjoyed the new genre. Interviewing an actual person about his life was interesting and satisfying and I am keen to capture other personal stories in the future.


Cornbread Mountain Boys  Sawtooth Sally April 2009 (CC by NC-SA-3.0 US)

Videvo ‘Girl_on_phone_cutaway_2’  (CC BY 4.0)

Vincente, MR & Lopez, AJ  ‘A Multidimensional Analysis of the Disability Digital Divide: Some Evidence for Internet Use’ Information Society Jan/Feb 2010, Vol. 26 Issue 1, p48-64. 17p