What Is Digital Inclusion?

October 4-8, 2021 is Digital Inclusion Week. This annual campaign recognizes local digital inclusion organizations and special events that promote digital equity across the country.

Digital Inclusion Week aims to raise awareness of solutions addressing home internet access, personal devices, and local technology training and support programs. At the same time, it sheds light on the digital divide, meaning the separation between those who have access to computers and the internet, and those who do not.

 As the internet becomes increasingly embedded in our personal and professional lives, digital inclusivity is more important than ever to ensure access. This is especially true for older job seekers who are trying to find their way back into the workforce.

What is digital inclusion?

Digital inclusion is a relatively new concept that addresses issues related to digital literacy and access to technology. It is the ability to access and use information and communications technologies, regardless of income, age, or ability.

The digital divide focuses on access to tech devices. But, digital inclusion is meant to be a practical approach to addressing the needs of individuals and communities as a whole.

Digital inclusion can be viewed as a framework for addressing the readiness of communities to fully embrace the digital age. This not only has many socioeconomic benefits, but it can also enrich the lives of individuals in the community.

According to the University of Maryland College Park, digital inclusion has three critical elements: access, adoption, and application. Together, these elements lead to the goal of creating a more digitally inclusive society.

How to participate in Digital Inclusion Week

There are so many ways to recognize Digital Inclusion Week and promote digital equity in your community! Here are just a few ideas to get you started.

Map Your Digital Divide: neighborhoods and communities across the nation are experiencing a digital divide. Draw attention to this in your area by posting a photo on social media displaying the divide in your zip code. You can find some mapping resources here.

Engage Elected Officials: ask them to get involved by posting a video, photo, or a letter of support for local digital inclusion initiatives to their social media.

Participate in Community Events: When communities come together to bridge the digital divide, everyone wins. Here are a few events you might attend or even host in your neighborhood:

  • Device Donation Drive – collect and refurbish used desktops and laptops to give to program participants.
  • Resume Reviews – help people learn how to create or update a resume and search online for job openings.
  • Internet Enrollment Event – partner with a low-cost internet service provider to get people signed up for affordable broadband.

What Vantage is doing for digital inclusion

Digital competencies are skills that the workforce needs, and VANTAGE Aging is solving the problem by providing access to digital tools and training. The pilot Shrinking the Digital Divide program is unique among similar projects because the emphasis is on workforce development specifically for adults age 55 and older.

The purpose of Shrinking the Digital Divide for Older Ohioans project is to develop the individual capacity of older Ohioans by: 

  • Expanding internet and computer access.
  • Upskilling individuals’ digital literacy and requisite competencies with workplace digital technologies.
  • Better preparing older Ohioans for unsubsidized employment through increased opportunities for conducting job searches online while refining workplace competencies and skills.

The project is designed to improve individual skills to increase employment outcomes for older individuals who are excluded from the digital economy and are negatively impacted by the Digital Divide. Eligible participants are low-income, over 55 years old, and unemployed.

Funding for this innovative project is through the Department of Labor. The goal is to reduce barriers created by the Digital Divide and improve workforce development service delivery to better prepare job seeking participants for employment. Shrinking the Digital Divide is part of VANTAGE’s Workforce Solutions program, which provides job training for low-income Ohioans age 55 and older through the Senior Community Service Employment Program.

*The information in this article is intended solely to provide general information on matters of interest for the personal use of the reader, who accepts full responsibility for its use. This article should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal, medical, or other competent advisors.

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