The digital divide is the gap between those who have affordable access, skills, and support to effectively engage online and those who do not.
What does the digital divide look like in Louisiana?
21% of Louisiana households do not have a broadband subscription
12% of school age children in Louisiana are not connected
31% of the Census blocks in Louisiana have no form of internet coverage other than via satellite subscription
31% of working age adults do not have the digital skills needed
The digital divide hinders equal participation and opportunity in all aspects of life. This particularly affects "older, less educated, and less affluent populations, as well as rural parts of the country" (U.S. Department of Education, 2018). In Louisiana, the digital divide disproportionately affects:
Older Adults (16.5% of Louisianans are 65 years old or older)
Low-income households (over 17% of the state lives in poverty)
People of color (43% of Louisianans are not white)
Indigenous people (representing over 360,000 Louisianans)
People with disabilities (11% of Louisianans live with a disability)
Rural areas (nearly 26% of our population, over 1.2 million people)
Digital equity is the condition in which all individuals and communities have the information technology capacity needed for full participation in our society, democracy, and economy. Digital equity is necessary for civic and cultural participation, employment, lifelong learning, and access to essential services.
Digital inclusion refers to the activities necessary to ensure that all individuals and communities, including the most disadvantaged, have access to and use of information and communication technologies. This includes access to affordable internet service, appropriate devices, and digital literacy training.
Digital Literacy is the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills. (American Library Association)
To ensure all Louisiana residents can meaningfully benefit from broadband, all residents need access to a high-speed internet connection and that access needs to be affordable. ConnectLA, the Office of Broadband Development and Connectivity, is the broadband resource in Louisiana and strives to alleviate the digital divide in Louisiana.
The Louisiana Statewide Digital Inclusion Pilot is one-year effort to address the digital inclusion needs in Louisiana with an emphasis on digital literacy. This pilot seeks to reduce the percentage of Louisiana residents who lack the digital skills to fully participate in today's society where essential functions are increasingly through digital technologies.
A cohort of 65 professional librarians and library staff have been appointed as digital navigators and will provide outreach and digital literacy training to their community. They will trial digital literacy programming and establish needed roles to develop a sustainable program with Louisiana's public libraries and other community partners.
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