Social Hacking for Accessibility
The VI edition of the Social Hackathon Umbria (#SHU2022) took place from 30 June to 3 July 2022 in Montefalco, Italy. The event took place for the very first time in 2016. Organised by the European Grants International Academy (EGInA) in collaboration with the Crowddreaming Hackadmy Lab Foligno 4D (CRHACK LAB F4D), the event aimed to develop the digital skills of young people through preparatory trainings and a Hackathon. In this context, #SHU2022 focused on the co-creation of innovative digital solutions to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations 2030 Agenda.
Happy hacking! From an idea to solutions for key global challenges
#SHU2022 is slightly different than an average hackathon. Most of the hackathons that take place throughout Europe and the world are most often addressed to IT experts. What is more, their marketing strategy is usually based on the availability of cash prizes or the access to business acceleration programmes. The Social Hackathon puts forward a different and more innovative approach to addressing a wider audience and solving concrete challenges.
So how do we define a social hackathon? At its heart, the Social Hackathon is a participatory and open process, aiming to identify specific challenges related to improving one (or more) societal issues.
The Social Hackathon also branches out of the usual IT-focused area, resting on collaboration between people with a low level of digital skills. Participants in a Social Hackathon may have different roles depending on this level – but one thing in common is the expectation of learning new skills (while having fun!), and a shared interest to contribute to the development of a digital solution with a social impact.
Social Hacking for Accessibility: one step closer to the UN’s SDGs
With the participation of 185 social hackers from all over Europe, #SHU2022 has greatly engaged people with different backgrounds and interests in the co-development of websites, apps, digital games, and social marketing strategies to support and add value to activities carried out by local CSOs (Civil Society Organisations) across four areas of accessibility, linked to the UN’s SDGs. We look at each of the 4 areas in a bit more detail below.
Goal 11 of the UN Agenda 2030 aims to provide universal access to safe, inclusive, and accessible green and public spaces, particularly for women and children, the elderly and persons with disabilities. SHU2022 projects have met the challenge of accessing and moving independently in physical environments. Take for example the Smascherati! team group that helped to strengthen identity and community, appreciate history, improve accessibility, and expand the network around the project.
Goal 9 of UN Agenda 2030 aims to significantly increase access to information and communication technologies and the effort to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet. Supporting projects responded to the challenge of using information systems and resources typically via assistive technologies.
The EFT Team realized the Open Data project. An open and easily reusable project from reliable sources for all citizens. Open Data means public data in an open, “free” format accessible to all citizens, as well as easily reusable and exchangeable on the web, without copyright, patent or other limitations. It is used in schools to “Learn in a meaningful way through the IBSE (Inquiry Based Science Education) methodology”.
Goal 8 of UN Agenda 2030 aims to achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, young people and people with disabilities, and secure equal pay for work of equal value. SHU2022 projects have met the challenge of harnessing a particular tangible or intangible resource to meet a particular human need.
The ANLAIDS team promotes studies and research on AIDS. The project had four main objectives: Website and pages creation, Registration time for the free trial, Built-in translation option, and Documentation for the future maintenance of the local organization.
Goal 4 of UN Agenda 2030 aims to eliminate gender disparities and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the most vulnerable ones, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, and children in vulnerable situations. The co-development teams presented projects that can allow disadvantaged people to independently enjoy and access cultural and educational content.
The Educhiamoci Team has created an App aimed at young adults that breaks down the problems related to the “patient-psychologist” approach, stimulating people to become aware of their emotional distress by remaining anonymous and preventing the onset of conditions that can worsen over time.
In brief, we can consider the 2022 edition of Social Hackademy a success. The event also reinforced how the Social Hackademy Methodology, developed by the European NGO All Digital in collaboration with the international partners of the Erasmus+ project #HACKAD, can have a positive impact on the digital skills of young people, through collaborative activities and co-creation.
About the author
Sociologist and communicator, Altheo has been working for more than 15 years as a project manager in the framework of various financing instruments of the European Commission, with a particular focus on digital and social innovation, for which he has founded the European Grants International Academy Srl.
Altheo deeply believes in transformative social change and he implements it by leading All Digital, the EU NGO for the promotion of digital skills, and the Social Hackathon Umbria, a 48-hour digital marathon for the co-creation of innovative solutions.