Bristol Braille Technology

The Confidentiality Issue

append delete Steph

One of our governing principals is to encourage openness of information and knowledge sharing to help propel Braille technology development but we also need participants and presenters to feel safe doing so. It's a fine line to tread.

The need for confidentiality is two-fold:

- To allow meeting attendees to feel that they can contribute openly and honestly.
- To allow companies & presenters to be confident their hard work and livelihoods won't go to waste.

Group meetings can be a great place to share personal experiences but people generally only share things they might be sensitive about when they feel safe with their audience and know who they are. As a result, many community interest groups similar to the Braillists agree on a level of confidentiality for their meetings. These tend to follow a principle that no personally sensitive information may be shared outside the meeting but generalised and anonymised information can be used in open discussion.

To be able to effectively influence Braille technology developers we want them to come to us at the early stages of their development. Much of the time this means discussing and testing early prototypes. This is a delicate time for developers - they desperately want feedback to make their projects the best they can be but they are wary that their carefully crafted, innovative designs, taking hundreds of hours of work, are vulnerable to prying eyes and competitive snoopers.

A possible solution at the beginning of every presentation the level of confidentiality is set by the presenter. This could be similar in principle to the Creative Commons licensing system with standardised levels of agreement. Maybe something along the lines of
- this can be openly talked about outside of the meeting
- the general idea can be talked about outside of the meeting but no specifics
- none of this can be talked about outside of the meeting
This might remove any awkwardness regarding confidentiality, which seems to be a topic people don't like talking about!

We are investigating online systems that will allow meeting attendees to openly discuss meeting topics without compromising the privacy and confidentiality of those taking part.

So what do you think? How do we strike the balance between a great flow of communication and understanding whilst making sure that projects get to the finish line in the best way possible and attendees are free to talk openly?

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