Visual impairment, hearing loss, mobility impaired, and a host of other disabilities result in population groups with disabilities having lower broadband adoption when compared to the universe of potential users. NGOs use a variety of tactics to help those with disabilities. Specialized equipment is difficult to procure but innovative NGOs are able to work with caregivers to identify alternative solutions. Training manuals with larger print, one-on-one training with those that are hearing impaired, and installing computer labs inside independent living facilities for the mobility impaired are a few of the many ways NGOs innovate novel ways to help increase digital literacy.
Some NGOs empower student volunteers to help teach digital literacy. Those individuals learn job skills, and life skills while serving their community. As stated by one volunteer, “I volunteered to help teach others – but I found that I learned more than those that I taught.”
Digital inclusion NGOs use many approaches to reach out to the members of their communities. Sometimes student volunteers teach inside independent living facilities, some schools adopt senior centers, and some schools invite senior citizens into their school to be taught by students after school. Through this program, as the digital divide is being crossed by seniors, the intergenerational divide is being crossed by student-volunteers.
Some non-adopters do not choose to become digitally literate because they are concerned about their safety on the Internet. Cyber-bullying, Net predators, viruses, scams and fraud – there are as many dangers online as there are in the “real world.” But knowledge is power and those NGOs that include Internet safety training as a required component of their digital literacy program are providing those they serve the complete product.
Increasing sustainable broadband adoption starts with identifying an individual’s broadband value proposition and then requires a computer, broadband, computer training, Internet training, and Internet safety training. Follow up technical and customer support helps increase new users’ comfortableness and expedites the learning experience. Technical and customer support ensures that new broadband users receive ongoing assistance when it’s most important – during the first six months after users receive their first computer.
Computer refurbishing is made more difficult for many NGOs because they are not sufficiently funded to have the storage facilities they require for efficient operations. But when NGOs partner with government, businesses, and other NGOs, real synergy can be created. Since digital literacy is becoming increasingly important to government and businesses that seek to facilitate a competitive and highly trained labor force, they have a vested interest in maximizing digital literacy.
Refurbishing computers is a process. Efficient operations use equipment such as KVMs or imaging software to increase computer refurbishing productivity. When a computer has a hardware problem, it takes knowledge, spare parts, and creativeness to make certain every possible computer can be given a “second life” and be donated to a school, a library, or other NGOs.
Many NGOs experience difficulty obtaining computers to refurbish so that they can be donated to others. Computer acquisition tactics vary depending upon the existing opportunities. Conducting computer drives, working with businesses that replace computers, and partnering with government that conduct periodic computer refresh programs are often used in combination by NGOs, depending upon the community. Most NGOs and their constituents cannot afford to purchase new computers, so NGOs that are creative are often the most successful.
In many countries, older population groups have lower broadband adoption rates than the population’s universe. Some NGOs construct computer labs in independent living facilities and senior citizen apartments because with this strategy, computers become part of the senior citizens’ homes and lives.
– I just got an email with a picture of my new granddaughter!
– Look at the bad weather that’s coming…you can see it on the weather radar!
– I just found something interesting about a health issue that I was really worried about.
These are the type of comments that help others understand that broadband’s value proposition is as varied as each individual and digital literacy opens news windows into the world.
They are called the Digital Generation and there are times when an NGO’s older student volunteers can learn 21st Century presentation and communication skills while helping younger students computer and Internet skills. Programs that enable students-to-help-students creates youth role models and show younger students how technology is both empowering and “cool.”