During 2021, the Alliance for Digital Equity conducted an assessment of the digital divide and digital equity with over 100 organizations in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties of Massachusetts. Combined with recent census data, the assessment led to a report providing community-level insight into challenges facing those communities with lessons for communities across Massachusetts.
The Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative is a member of the Alliance for Digital Equity and contributed to the report, which includes examples of digital equity programs and practices that support older adults.
While the challenges are well documented, the report goes beyond data to visualize barriers and extract anecdotes from communities that help illustrate the digital divide and what needs to be done.
Notably, the report includes a framework for action that highlights local and regional programs, and discusses initiatives in development. Older adults are a point of focus throughout the document and there exists a recognition that digital equity is a goal for people of all ages. As the report states:
“The lack of digital equity in our region, in our state, and in our nation is a problem for all of us. We all suffer no matter whether we are a parent, student, business owner, government official, retired older adult, recent immigrant, educator, or community leader—digital equity concerns us all. In 2021, being able to effectively use the internet— whatever the reason—is a requirement for participating in society. Otherwise people get left behind. There are digital haves and have nots.”
For more information, see the Alliance for Digital Equity Report here.