Overcoming ODR Drawbacks in Marginalized Areas and People with Fewer Resources

One of the major drawbacks of online dispute resolution is ensuring the marginalized people and scarce resources will be addressed. People with disabilities and areas with fewer technological resources have difficulty using ODR. On a worldwide scale, the World Health Organization identified over 2 billion people with disabilities. In 2 billion, 20% have great functional difficulties. Also, there are 4.4 billion people in the world who have yet to access the internet.

The innovation of various online dispute resolution platforms makes it seem like this will be the next best thing for our justice system. However, one of the most pressing drawbacks of this would be marginalized people and few resources.

Technological literacy is necessary so that people can use ODR. However, this is impossible to do, given that there are areas where resources are very scarce. Also, some people just don’t have the physical capacity to do so due to different disabilities.

Currently, many attempts can be made to reach out to the marginalized. Some of these include the utilization of the ICTs, or Information and Communication Technology.  Moreover, technological assistance can be innovated through voice recognition and voice command, subtitles, and even the formation of telecenters specifically to assist the marginalized.

Now that you have seen the gist of the drawbacks of ODR in terms of marginalized communities, you would surely want to know how to overcome it. In this article, we shall go more in-depth to learn about marginalization in ODR and the steps we can take to address them.

Online Dispute Resolution: Definition and Advantages

Online dispute resolution, or ODR, is an alternative dispute resolution developed along with internet and technological advancements. The internet is a valuable platform on ODR.

Information technology is tailor-fitted to the needs of the platform in resolving disputes occurring mostly between e-commerce transactions.

As technology advanced, ODR innovated as well. The low-level disputes online can now be resolved with emails, video conferencing, or with artificial intelligence as the mediator. Because of these, ODR is being praised as a flexible, modern, and creative means of addressing the increasing online disputes.

Moreover, ODR can provide more people with an easier means of convening to settle their disputes. There is no more need to travel long distances to meet in a courtroom. However, there are also some drawbacks to this very novel virtual dispute resolution means.

For more on ODR, What is ODR (Online dispute resolution) ?

What are the Drawbacks of ODR?

Of course, it would be very difficult to have a novel platform that has absolutely no drawbacks. Online dispute resolution is not yet a perfect system for resolving problems between parties. There are still many aspects where experts need to assess further.

First, ODR is a form of dispute that is informal. There is less personal discussion since the dispute resolution occurs remotely via emails and messaging. There would be a more personal atmosphere in a face-to-face court meeting in contrast to virtual court processes.

Online dispute resolution includes e-commerce disputes. This means that there would be parties from different parts of the world which have different languages. It would be challenging to mediate a dispute between two parties who are not proficient in the same language.

Other than the language barrier which needs to be addressed, technological proficiency should also be given attention. Given the ODR functions online, people need to be able to have gadgets to utilize its features. Moreover, a certain degree of literacy and technological knowledge is required. People without adequate technology, internet connection, or devices cannot fully access and participate in online dispute resolution.

The problem with marginalized people and areas with fewer technological resources makes ODR a disadvantaged platform. Not reaching a certain percentage of the population will be quite a hurdle for experts to work around with.

How Much of the Population does ODR Reach?

One of the drawbacks of ODR is that it does not reach the whole population. Marginalization and scarce resources make ODR inaccessible to a certain percentage of the people.

Marginalization is a broad term. It refers to a group of people who do not belong in the mainstream culture. Therefore, they do not get to benefit from the effects of these. Moreover, this term also refers to people who lack social capital, such as resources, to participate in these beneficial platforms and activities.

There are lots of reasons attributed to this. The first would be poverty. Resources are very scarce in areas that have a high prevalence of poverty. Also, marginalization can be observed in regions with language incompetency.

In the context of an online platform, we can also consider the capability of people to use gadgets and the internet. Marginalized people who cannot use electronic devices cannot utilize ODR. This includes people with disabilities.

Online dispute resolution is designed to revolve its use on emailing, video conferencing, and information technology. People who have disabilities cannot use digital devices on their own. This means that ODR cannot reach these people, making them part of the marginalized population.

According to the US Consensus Bureau, in the United States alone, 56 million people are currently living with a disability. Along with these statistics, disabled Americans are three times less likely to use online platforms.

On a worldwide scale, the World Health Organization identified over 2 billion people with disabilities. In 2 billion, 20% have great functional difficulties. Here are the data of the World Health Organization on marginalized people with disabilities and the corresponding figures which have implications on their access to ODR:

  • 17% of the world’s population are affected by blindness and visual impairment
  • About 6% have deafness and hearing loss
  •  Intellectual disability should also be considered. 200 million people, or around 2.6% of the population, suffer from this.

These people can indeed have difficulty utilizing ODR. Also, it would be difficult to say in the first place that they would be able to utilize it at all.

Since online dispute resolution is web-based, the use of the internet is imperative. What you need to know, though, is that 4.4 billion people in the world have yet to access the internet. The reason for this disconnect is mainly poverty. Many remote rural areas and poor communities do not have access to the internet today.

Persons with disabilities can sometimes have access to online platforms given that, in the first place, they have the necessary gadgets and internet bandwidth. There are, of course, some ways to overcome the drawbacks of online dispute resolution to these marginalized people.

For more on the future of ODR, Online Dispute Resolution: The Future of Justice

How Can We Overcome the Drawbacks of ODR?

Marginalized communities and populations are best addressed with well-developed and well-implemented Information and Communication Technology, or ICT. Social inclusion can be done with the collaborative effort of different sectors of the community.

First, there should be recognition of who is marginalized. It is very difficult to work for a solution if you fail to identify who you should target.

ICTs have been a solution to marginalized communities, empowerment of people with disabilities. One of the things that can be done would be education and skills development specific to these populations. Moreover, telecenters can be explicitly made for the disabled and marginalized.

It would also be effective to look into the simple details of the ODR platforms. Hearing problems are a common concern. Therefore, ODR platforms should hopefully have subtitles or sign language options available.

If you want to know how to reach out to people who have physical disabilities, you can try special devices to grasp it firmly and control the screen. This principle is similar to how your mouse or keyboard works on your computer.

Another simple method would be to provide for voice recognition and voice command. This makes a kind of assistive technology for the disabled.  

Moreover, a standard precaution should be noted, especially on epileptic and people with seizures. Many websites have sudden bursts of flashing lights. These features are very harmful to some people. Hopefully, these will be removed or would flash trigger warnings in the beginning.

With these, the marginalized sectors and people with few resources can be accommodated by directing efforts to reach out to them.


Online dispute resolution platforms are incredible innovations. They can lead us to better dispute resolution platforms. But, as we have learned in its drawbacks, some people would be left behind if we choose to neglect them.

Efforts must be concentrated on marginalized people due to their disabilities and due to very few resources. With this initiative, social inclusion will improve, and we can overcome one of the significant drawbacks of online dispute resolution as a platform.

Basically, we would want to continue innovating for better access to ODR. This includes directing efforts to the marginalized. Moreover, a better and more specific flow of dispute resolution can also help. Lastly, if there is a need, certain agencies can be specifically made to address the concerns of the marginalized.

Small steps towards innovation can surely help. In the future, we can expect that ODR will be socially inclusive and effective as a novel dispute resolution platform.

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