Digital equity is a condition in which all individuals and communities have the information technology capacity needed for full participation in our society, democracy, and economy. Digital equity is necessary for civic and cultural participation, employment, lifelong learning, and access to essential services (National Digital Inclusion Alliance). Addressing the lack of access to broadband infrastructure is critical to connecting everyone in a community; however, barriers still exist even when connections are readily available. Digital equity and digital inclusion efforts are typically broad and address a number of specific barriers preventing vulnerable populations from fully realizing the quality of life benefits of being connected. The resources below provide information on these broader, more comprehensive efforts while the sections that follow provide specific resources and examples to address the common barriers to broadband adoption, (e.g. affordability, digital literacy, awareness, etc.).
National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Broadband Adoption Toolkit: https://www2.ntia.doc.gov/files/NTIA_2013_BroadbandUSA_Adoption_Toolkit.pdf
National Digital Inclusion Alliance Guidebook: https://guidebook.digitalinclusion.org/index.html
Why Broadband Matters: http://connectmycommunity.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Why-Broadband-Matters.pdf and http://connectmycommunity.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Speed-Matters.pdf.
Digital Inclusion and Meaningful Broadband Adoption Initiatives: https://www.benton.org/publications/digital-inclusion-and-meaningful-broadband-adoption-initiatives.
Much of the community wide digital inclusion and digital equity work completed to date has occurred in large metropolitan communities. While many of these efforts apply to communities of this type, lessons and ideas from their efforts can be translated for implementation in small, rural places. The National Digital Inclusion Alliance curates a list of “Digital Inclusion Trailblazers,” and more information on the digital inclusion activities of these trailblazing communities can be found here: https://www.digitalinclusion.org/digital-inclusion-trailblazers/.
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