Monadnock Region Digital Literacy and Access Project
- June 27, 2022
- Broadband, Public Health
Access to high-quality internet is vital in today’s world. However, there are many households that lack access to internet service capable of broadband speeds and a computing device like a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone. This is particularly the case for lower income households. For others, knowledge and skills around the use of these services and devices represent a barrier and can result in reduced access to information, social engagement opportunities and healthcare, among other things. We also know that nationally, older adults and those with lower incomes are more likely to say they do not want or need service.
Through financial support from the Monadnock United Way, and in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of local social service agencies led by the Keene Senior Center is undertaking a regional needs assessment focused on digital literacy and access.
The Keene Senior Center is pleased to be a part of this research grant. Our experience during the pandemic showed that many Seniors would like to have broadband service, and training on computers, tablets and phones. They want to access medical care, stay in touch with family and friends and explore the world. Computer classes and drop in computer help at the Senior Center are filled while members who live more rurally talk about their frustration at slow speeds and the inability to zoom or engage in Tele-health. We look forward to the results of these surveys and next steps.Mary Jensen, Keene Senior Center Executive Director
The project is expected to be complete later this summer. The inventory and analysis of the information will inform a report and recommendations from identifying funding and technical assistance opportunities to replicating successful practices. As consultant to the project, Southwest Region Planning Commission (SWRPC) is pleased to promote two different tools being used to inventory both assets and gaps related to access and digital literacy. What do these terms mean? As defined by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration:
- Access considers the availability of high-speed, reliable Internet and related equipment, including having Internet connections and technology at home or in community institutions (e.g., free public Wi-Fi, public computer centers).
- Digital Literacy measures an individual’s ability to use the Internet and modern technologies, such as computers and smart phones.
To participate in the needs assessment, organizations serving older adults (such as social service agencies, libraries, healthcare providers, community groups, etc.) are encouraged to respond to the organizational questionnaire online. In place of an online response, organizations serving older adults may complete the survey via a phone or online interview. Older adult residents of Southwest NH are encouraged to respond to the individual questionnaire online. Printed copies of each questionnaire are also available. For more information, please contact Henry Underwood of Southwest Region Planning Commission at (603) 357-0557 and visit the Digital Literacy and Access Needs Assessment projects webpage.