Photo – Screen grab from the webinar
It’s been over six months since the pandemic left us sheltering in place. Everything about how we live and work has changed. By now, most nonprofits have been able to move their programming online, but that does not help people with limited or no internet access or who lack the digital skills to participate.
This situation prompted Kami Griffiths, executive director and co-founder of Community Tech Network, to develop and host a webinar for the Austin community on October 5. It was called “Connecting the Unconnected: Programming in the Age of COVID-19,” and you can see the recording here. The webinar kicked off Digital Inclusion Week in Austin, which included several events during the week of October 5 – 9 to raise awareness of solutions that address home internet access, personal devices, and local technology training and support.
The webinar, designed for nonprofit program management and client-facing staff, taught participants how to document obstacles existing in their communities that keep their clients offline. It helped them understand this data and increased their comfort level in communicating it to stakeholders who affect policy and provide funding. In addition, the attendees learned specific, immediate steps they can follow to help their communities get connected.
One of the participants commented, “I work with a nonprofit as a career coach for people with mental health diagnoses. Since the pandemic, coaching has become very difficult because lots of our clients don’t have smartphones or computers or technological literacy, and so that is becoming a barrier to helping them find work. The resources today offer some insight, and also I will share them with my team because we are all scrambling to see what kind of technology we can get for our clients.”
Participating organizations were encouraged to get more involved by creating or finding activities in their areas that increase digital inclusion. These could include providing computer training, media literacy, affordable devices, or internet access to people on the wrong side of the digital divide. This effort is just the most recent initiative implemented by CTN over its 12-year history designed to boost public awareness of digital literacy issues. If you are interested in learning more or to request a similar webinar for your organization or community, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.