What is Digital Inclusion?
Fully realizing the potential of broadband and ensuring technology equity for all requires an understanding of the digital divide and a strategy to ensure full deployment and adoption. It is more than just computer ownership or Internet nearby. Digital Inclusion encompasses three areas: Access, technology literacy, and relevant content and services. Inclusion seeks equity for all residents, as well as small businesses and community-based (non-profit) organizations. The three areas include these components:
- Connectivity to the Internet
- End user equipment: hardware and software, including tools for people with disabilities.
- Access to technical support
- Technology literacy
- Skills required to utilize the equipment and Internet effectively for essential services, education, employment, civic engagement and cultural participation.
- Relevant online content and services
- Services available for those in need
- Culturally and educationally appropriate design
- Marketing and placement appropriate to reach underserved communities
- Enabling of content production and distribution by lower capacity residents, businesses and organizations.
The City of Seattle is committed to promoting a technology healthy community with digital inclusion for all. This includes ensuring that residents have the technology training and access needed to ensure civic and cultural participation, employment and lifelong learning.
This definition was developed in conjunction with the Communities Connect Network (CCN), a state network working to ensure quality and sustainable community technology in programs. CCN led an effort that resulted in the definition of digital inclusion and community technology being adopted as law by the Legislature and Governor Gregoire in 2008.
Digital Inclusion/community technology programs level the playing field of opportunity by serving low-income or low-literacy residents, residents of rural communities, seniors, people with disabilities, at-risk youth, immigrants/refugees and people of color as well as small disadvantaged businesses and non-profit organizations.
Programs are usually provided by non-profit or public agencies in community settings. These may be youth and community centers, small business and workforce training centers, immigrant and refugee organizations, low-income housing, libraries or schools opened for community programs.
"Technology underserved" are those populations identified as behind other populations in access to and use of information and communications technology. The reasons for this may vary, based on available infrastructure and costs, discrimination or lack of investment in delivering technology and technology-related services to a specific area or to a specific population, or, for a given population, based on discriminating factors, which may include socioeconomic status, education, literacy, special needs or disabilities, language barriers, and culturally or age appropriate design and delivery of services.