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Internet Equity through Free Public Access and Digital Literacy Instruction


It's no secret that in poor urban communities, and in many rural areas of the United States, low-income families and individuals don't have easy computer access to the Internet, or do not have high bandwidth access. The Washington, D.C. City Council has before it two bills to address the issue of public access and digital literacy As you may know, the District has affluent areas where home access to the Internet is taken for granted, but it also has low-income communities where computer Internet access is much more limited.

Could these two bills be a model for other urban and rural communities? I was especially interested in the universal design argument described in this article that free, widespread public access to the Internet through D.C. could benefit everyone, including small business owners, and employers through increased shopping by tourists, and presumably increased online job applications. I wonder if there have been studies to support that argument. If you know of any, please share them here.

Are there examples of other areas in North America that have provided widespread municipal or regional free access to the Internet? Have any also provided free digital literacy skills instruction? Does the digital literacy instruction include access for those who need assistive technology, or does it include universal design so that disability issues are also addressed? If so, share these examples please.

Are you working on free computer Internet access for your community? If so, tell us what you are doing.

Does your public library or adult basic skills program lend computers and hotspots to adult learners? If so, tell us about that.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

Integrating Technology CoP