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Improving the digital experience of functional illiterates

An award-winning project from Tech3Lab, Desjardins and Lettres en main

June 20, 2024

A project entitled “Améliorer l’expérience numérique des analphabètes fonctionnel(le)s” (Improving the digital experience of functional illiterates), which is the result of a partnership between HEC Montréal’s Tech3Lab teams, Desjardins and Lettres en main, won the Best Project Award in the Human category at the 2024 Desjardins Recognition Gala. This project was judged best out of the 228 that were submitted.


Research dedicated to equity, diversity and inclusion

According to the Fondation pour l’alphabétisation, 34% of Quebecers are functional illiterates (level 2). For Desjardins, this represents around 2,720,000 people that are likely to use its digital platforms and have experiences that aren’t suited to their daily challenges.

This is where the strengths of the financial institution, Tech3Lab and Lettres en main were pooled together as part of a study to better understand the reality of these people and find solutions to simplify their online experience, without adversely affecting the experience of other users.

To do this:


Concrete results for everyone

This research made it possible to:

A second phase of user testing will take place this year to determine whether certain types of online support (videos, images) make functionally illiterate people more financially independent.

“Besides receiving this award, the greatest pride of this project lies in our shared commitment to remaining human in the digital age,” said Félix Le Pailleur, MSc graduate in User Experience from HEC Montréal and Senior UX Researcher at Desjardins. “By combining our expertise in literacy, research, accessibility and user experience, we have been able to demonstrate that collaboration is a powerful driver of change.”

Here is the list of all the people who took part in this teamwork:

1) Tech3Lab

Main team – Adrian Minano-Lozano (Master’s student in User Experience, whose thesis included this project), Pierre-Majorique Léger, Sylvain Sénécal, Constantinos Coursaris, Frédérique Bouvier, David Brieugne, Jared Boasen, Shang Lin Chen, Salima Tazi, Xavier Côté, Élise Imbeault, Félix Giroux

Support – Luis Carlos Castiblanco and Alexander Karran

Research assistance – Ikram El Kamouni, Juliette Houvenaghel, Yara Nasr, Kajamathy Subramaniam, Sabrina Verreault, Karine Yeddou

2) Desjardins

Félix Le Pailleur, Stéphanie Levasseur, Kevin Nolet and Éric Tanguay

3) Lettres en main

Anthony Gamache, Marie Claire Sansregret and François Veilleux


Find out more


MSc – User Experience