Research Implications
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Community Engagement and Development

As a South African I feel there is another guiding force in my research and that is the obligation to remain engaged with the issues that arise. I have wanted to use the skills I have to support our reconstruction and development. This cannot be done blindly; I believe the safety of academia demands a critically constructive engagement. The work I do in rural communications, empowering of Deaf users, helping people conserve their traditional knowledge, using alternative ways of supporting communication and looking at policy implications, also makes sense to me in this regard.

It is also imperative is to drive policy implementation. The South African framework of legislation comprises of excellent policies in many areas. However, enacting policy is also about practical solutions and there we have significant shortcoming in our society. One outcome of ICT technologies is to help give people their own voice in asking for their democratic rights.


In ICTD work one needs a representative who knows the community one is working with. This can be an NGO or other interested party. My research has been supported by many different NGO's and without them it would not have been possible for a Computer Scientist to do the kind of work. ICTD also raises important ethical issues which are fundamentally concerns of reciprocity: what does the community get in return for helping our research careers?


  1. Can we move the debate on "Design-for" Development to being "Designed-with" Development?
  2. Can we envision a flexibility in ourselves to re-imagine ourselves as much as we imagine artefacts outside?
  3. Are our methods and beliefs as much up for grabs as the cherished values of the community that we are trying to transform with our technology? 
  4. Is it not probable, once we accept the community as co-designers that we might not even have the last word in design?

The aim is thus to perform a radical re-evaluation of the way we address development transformation with the assistance of newly designed and developed information and communications technology assisted applications and content.