Teresa Peters died yesterday, 16 December, 2013, at the age of about 46, after a five-year battle against breast cancer. Teresa was the founder and from about 2000 - 2006 the ExDir of bridges.org, a mighty NGO based in Capetown, South Africa, that for several years led the fight to change policy and practice to achieve digital inclusion.
I owe Teresa many things, but chief among them is...
Teresa and bridges.org were instrumental in shoving, manhandling, womanhandling the field of development informatics (OK, ICT4D) along on the quest for impact. For outcomes. For being accountable for something other than, as Teresa termed it, "performance metrics"--how machines were bought and installed.
bridges published "Real Access/Real Impact" in 2002, outlining 12 criteria to determine whether or not people have "real access" to technology, access that makes use possible, and that can lead to "real impact," or improvements in social and economic well being. As described by the Association for Progressive Communications, "The concept of Real Access/Real Impact emerged from this report, and it provides a good overview of the main underlying issues."
Seems like a no-brainer, doesn't it? Real access? And impact? Teresa and bridges weren't the only parties pushing to hold projects accountable for impact. But check the history of, say, outcomes-based evaluation or results-based management among the UN organizations. You'll be shocked at the earliest dates you can find.
"We operated for that long without insisting on impact?" you might ask. Yes, I'm afraid we did.
But Teresa and her supporters (she was pretty-well connected, not brilliantly connected, but ethically so) were on it. You can read an abbreviated version of the bridges.org report here, courtesty of the APC.