Being connected to online information and technology is increasingly essential for so many aspects of our lives and well-being. Yet San Francisco seniors and people with disabilities are less likely than other residents to have Internet access at home. The price of internet service is one of the reasons residents cite.
As documented in Digital Inclusion: Closing The Digital Divide, a report issued by the Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation in February 2016, the keys to digital inclusion are access, equipment and literacy. Even as prices have fallen, the cost of devices remains out of reach for lower-income residents.
The third piece of closing the digital divide is ensuring that seniors and people with disabilities can get the training they need. A 2014 Pew research study found 77% of seniors 65 or older want someone to help them use a new digital device, and 56% want someone to help them learn how to use social networking sites. Helping participants over these hurdles can be extremely effective. The same study found that many seniors who do learn how to use their devices and go online became regular Internet users, with 71% going online almost every day, and 11% going online three to five times a week.
Adaptive technology offers many ways to empower and increase access for people with disabilities. Yet residents need to be aware of the options, have access to adaptive devices, and receive the training they need to use these technologies effectively.