The digital divide is the gap between those who have affordable access, skills, and support to effectively engage online and those who do not. This disparity prevents equal participation and opportunity in all areas of life, disproportionately affecting people of color, Indigenous peoples, households with low incomes, people with disabilities, people in rural areas, and older adults.
Digital equity is a condition in which all individuals and communities have the information technology capacity needed for full participation in our society.
As technology becomes more central to everyday life, it is essential to equip communities with the tools and resources to access technology and use it effectively to meet their needs and participate in recreation, health and wellness care, spiritual and personal development, economic transformation, consumption, and beyond. 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 communities have access to and use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). This includes five elements:
1. Affordable, robust broadband internet service;
2. Internet-enabled devices that meet the needs of the user;
3. Access to digital literacy training;
4. Quality technical support; and
5. Applications and online content designed to enable and encourage self-sufficiency, participation and collaboration.
NDIA recommends the American Library Association’s definition of Digital Literacy via their Digital Literacy Task Force:
Digital Literacy is the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills.
A person with digital literacy skills:
- Possesses the variety of skills – technical and cognitive – required to find, understand, evaluate, create, and communicate digital information in a wide variety of formats;
- Is able to use diverse technologies appropriately and effectively to retrieve information, interpret results, and judge the quality of that information;
- Understands the relationship between technology, life-long learning, personal privacy, and stewardship of information;
- Uses these skills and the appropriate technology to communicate and collaborate with peers, colleagues, family, and on occasion, the general public; and
- Uses these skills to actively participate in civic society and contribute to a vibrant, informed, and engaged community.