Defining Functional Illiteracy to Empower Inclusive Technology Design

Khadijah Danjuma Mohammed, Victoria Uren, Sian Joel-Edgar, Priscilla Omonedo

Research output: Unpublished contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Limited literacy presents a significant challenge in HCI research, yet the field lacks consistent definitions and measurement criteria. Researchers often interchange terms such as 'functional illiterates,' 'low literates,' and 'semi-literates,' further complicating the field. This paper conducts a systematic literature review (SLR) of 33 HCI studies, revealing concerns about the absence of a definition in 41% of the studies and the lack of measurement technique in 74%. Based on the results from our SLR and relevant research beyond HCI, we propose the following work-in-progress definition. 'Functional illiterates are motivated adults with some familiarity with text but insufficient to fully comprehend meanings and low skills in the measured digital skill, with enough language proficiency in the study language if they are literate in their native language. This understanding, coupled with addressing the identified issues, will empower the HCI4D community to design more inclusive technology solutions for functionally illiterate users in developing countries.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Event4th African Human Computer Interaction Conference - South Africa
Duration: 27 Nov 20231 Dec 2023


Conference4th African Human Computer Interaction Conference
Abbreviated titleACM AfriCHI'23
Internet address

Bibliographical note

© 2023 The Authors


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