Addressing the Broadband Gap: What Works?

Jack Geller led the session by outlining his recent research on Minnesota rural broadband adoption rates, which put a nice lens on the expertise of the following speakers.

Sam Drong at PCs for People

  • PCs for People is a great program and MIRC partner. We have talked about them before – but I took a few “new”notes.
  • You need a computer to find a job. You need a computer to apply. Chances are you’ll need computer skills to get the job.
  • Recently tried a PCs for Kids program where we worked through the school and ended up getting every family a computer.

Mark Scott, Age for Action & Vital Aging Network

  • There are several aging initiatives but they’re trying to connect local communities with the national resources for folks over 50. They are mobilizing people who are 50 years and older to work, serve, learn and lead.
  • Older folks (65+) are not online. And it’s where we are with the generations. What are the barriers to getting them online? They don’t see the need so education is a key. They have started having regular “surf days” to help introduce folks to the technology.
  • There are some motivators, For example, to sign up for most health programs (such as Medicare) you must sign up online. Another motivator is access to healthcare services online.

Tom Lehmann, Minnesota State Commission on Deaf, Deafblind and Hard of Hearing

  • The online world has been a ubiquitous facet of life. Most of us only notice it when we don’t have it.
  • Addressing the needs of folks with disabilities include appreciating the potential barriers (on your site or other online communication).
  • Addressing education and training.
  • Getting people to comply with regulations – such as closed captioning for campaign ads.
  • Need funding and assistive technologies.

Steven Renderos – Main Street Project

  • We have written on Steven’s work before too. They do a terrific job working to build media justice skills and drawing attention to topics that important – but can be tough to understand.
  • They work with the Rural Voters League. Work with social justice and media justice associations and others. Work to get under represented folks online.
  • Access – it’s a factor of success
  • Knowledge – it’s still new and there are gaps. We find easy technology to get folks started.
  • Empowerment – broadcasting the stories of folks on the margins, such as digital storytelling
  • Cost of access is the biggest barriers – that includes all costs, monthly fees, equipment, hidden fees, repair.
  • Held a public FCC listening session in Minneapolis.

2 thoughts on “Addressing the Broadband Gap: What Works?

  1. Pingback: Rural Pulse on Access to Technology « Blandin on Broadband

  2. Pingback: Foundations funding digital inclusion « Blandin on Broadband

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