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The Digital Divide: Nothing About Us Without Us

Article

Adam Echelman is the Executive Director of Libraries Without Borders USA, where he advocates for dynamic programs that increase access to information by meeting people where they are—whether through digital literacy classes in Laundromats or health workshops in churches. 

What is it like filing for unemployment, taking an online class, or looking for a job without a computer/internet in 2020? In predominantly Black and Latinx cities like Detroit, San Antonio, and Baltimore, more than a quarter of households lack internet access and a computer at home. This digital divide cuts across the United States and disproportionately affects low-income people of color much like health disparities and food insecurity. As schools and workplaces go virtual during the COVID-19 pandemic, the digital divide has gained media attention, but the story is incomplete. The best way to understand the issue is to listen to the people who are most affected and to bring their stories to the foreground. 

The best way to understand the issue is to listen to the people who are most affected and to bring their stories to the foreground. 

Adam will identify individuals across the US who are living without internet, a computer, and/or basic digital skills and support them to tell their story in their words. He will match these individuals with innovative newsrooms, reporters, and organizations in order to publish their writing and build relationships for follow-up features. This project will enable reporters to reimagine their approach, help the public better understand the digital divide, and empower individuals to make their voices heard.