FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Columbus, OH (April 6, 2021) – The coronavirus pandemic has exposed a hidden crisis among older adults across the country, specifically the lack of internet and technology to stay connected to the outside world, often referred to as the digital divide. VANTAGE Aging is addressing this national issue by establishing a pilot project, Shrinking the Digital Divide for Older Ohioans, a digital inclusion effort that improves digital access and computer competencies of older Ohioans.
According to Paolo Balboa of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, “On the national scale, Shrinking the Digital Divide for Older Ohioans utilizes a Digital Navigator model, making it unique among similar projects because the stated emphasis of the pilot program is its focus on workforce development for a specific population of adults aged 55 and older.”
“Similar technical support projects note that workforce development may be an outcome of their program, and they also note that older adults may be among the population served,” Balboa continued. “Ohio’s program, however, distinguishes itself because of its intentional accentuation on workforce development for older adults.”
The National Digital Inclusion Alliance has been a leader in the digital inclusion field and defines the five elements required for Digital Inclusion: 1) affordable, robust broadband internet service; 2) internet-enabled devices that meet the needs of the user; 3) access to digital literacy training; 4) quality technical support; and 5) applications and online content designed to enable and encourage self-sufficiency, participation, and collaboration. Digital Inclusion must evolve as technology advances. Digital Inclusion requires intentional strategies and investments to reduce and eliminate historical, institutional, and structural barriers to access and use technology.
“COVID-19 has greatly impacted older job seekers who were already facing barriers to employment before the pandemic, including ageism.” said Director of SCSEP Kate Harkin. “By advancing digital inclusion, we give older job seekers the tools they need to succeed in today’s workplace. Employers benefit from older employees’ knowledge, skills, and abilities to get done what needs to get done.”
For more information, contact Kate Harkin at 614-886-9084.
About VANTAGE Aging
VANTAGE Aging provides high-quality programs to empower the economic, social, physical, and mental well-being of adults as they age. Non-medical in-home care is provided by Home Wellness Solutions. Job training for low-income adults age 55 and older is offered through the Senior Community Service Employment Program. Evidenced-based volunteering to meet local and national needs is provided by RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program) volunteers. Meals on Wheels of Northeast Ohio provides home-delivered and congregate meals to provide nutritional support to the homebound and disabled. Behavioral health services administered by the Blick Center. Overall, VANTAGE’s programs come together to offer a path for positive aging. Founded in 1975 as a senior citizen program, VANTAGE has since become an independent, nationally respected organization with offices throughout the state. For more information, call 330-253-4597 or visit www.vantageaging.org.
Director of Community Engagement
The Senior Community Service Employment Program of VANTAGE Aging