Students fail assignments because they lack a home computer. Veterans have trouble making doctor’s appointments. Residents who need help paying utility bills can’t access their accounts online.
Digital exclusion poses a daunting, isolating problem that includes a lack of access to affordable internet networks and hardware; lack of skills to navigate, consume, and produce content in the digital sphere; and lack of access to troubleshooting support when devices break.
“Everything is going digital now, as far as resources for help,” said computer trainer Shenee King, who works with the Cleveland Housing Network.
The most daunting obstacle to digital access is poverty.
Almost three years ago, DigitalC and the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority took on the problem of digital exclusion. Their solution married training and networking in a program called “Connect Your Community.”
The project aimed to provide reliable broadband for CMHA residents, while giving them digital skills and devices. The broadband is sent from antennas placed atop a nearby charitable hospital to receivers on housing authority properties and a homeless shelter.
Read Cleveland.com's article "A quarter of Cuyahoga County homes have no internet access -- why that matters and how it’s changing," featuring the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority.