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How Technologists Contribute to Anti-racism

Learn more about the role of technologists in creating anti-racist technologies.
© Creative Computing Institute

In this article, you will learn the role technologists play in creating anti-racist tech.

When we are creating new technology products, a wide range of people are involved, including:

  • User Researchers
  • Designers
  • Architects
  • Developers and other implementers
  • Testers

This list isn’t exhaustive – there may be others involved depending on the product and company approach. Let’s look at the key roles listed above and how they can contribute to anti-racism.

User Researchers

User researchers have the role of deeply understanding users’ behaviours, needs and motivations. It may seem as though they would only be involved at the start of the process, but they actually provide value constantly, as they:

  • Plan and execute research, recruit and interview end-users, run focus groups
  • Analyse insights from users to inform the product team
  • Understand users and their journeys
  • Identify objectives to direct requirements for implementation

The User Researcher is essentially the ‘voice’ of the users. They inform and direct key decisions and can be influential in ensuring a product is anti-racist.

How can user researchers contribute to anti-racism in their role?

To contribute to anti-racism, user researchers can:

  • Conduct inclusive focus groups and consult wide-ranging groups before and during the product design process.
  • Work with organisations and designers who understand different target groups such as Rooted By Design. Don’t work alone, it’s a huge weight to bear to represent a wide range of backgrounds
  • Educate and teach themselves and others through active listening and practising accountability. Remember, we shared some resources about anti-racism in step 1.4!
  • Research, research, research

Designers

There is a clear distinction between User Researchers and Designers. Though Designers can be heavily influenced by the people involved in user research, they typically work with the outputs from the user research process, rather than users themselves.

There are many types of design involved in a design process, including:

  • User Interface (UI)/User Experience (UX) Design
  • Graphic Design
  • Animation Design
  • Web Design

The designers will be thinking about the audience from a ‘front end’ perspective – that is, how someone will interface with the product or service. We’ve already spoken about the impact of products not considering non-white audiences.

Across these disciplines, they will be considering:

= How audiences are interacting with products or services = The visuals and images audiences see = User journeys through products and services

They take the information from user researchers to ensure that consumers can have positive interactions.

How can designers contribute to anti-racism in their role?

The designers’ role is vital in supporting anti-racism, as they essentially define the face of a product or service. To contribute to anti-racism they can:

  • Authentically use a diversity of images/styles
  • Understand the meaning behind the use of colour and signs
  • Avoid reinforcing positive or negative stereotypes about people based on their race

Designers may want to check out Lexi Namer’s ‘Anti-racist reading list for designers’ (3).

 

© Creative Computing Institute
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Anti-Racist Approaches in Technology

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