The term “bridging the digital divide” comes with a natural assumption that there is one digital divide and it can be bridged. Digital inclusion practitioners working with disadvantaged populations understand acutely the many technological divides that exist. We also recognize there will be more. Digital equity goals must be set, reached and then reset and reached again. Repeat. The reason for this is twofold – (1) Technology is constantly changing. As society adapts to new technology, the most vulnerable members of our communities will always be in danger of being left behind. (2) All of us are always learning. There will always be a need for another digital literacy class.
NDIA recently posted definitions for “Digital Inclusion” and “Digital Equity”. These are working definitions that we will adjust as needed. As our work evolves, so must the definitions we use. The simplest way to think of the intersection of these two terms is that Digital Equity is the “what” (goals) and Digital Inclusion is the “how” (activities).
The reasons for digital inequity may vary, based on available infrastructure and costs, discrimination or lack of investment in delivering technology and technology-related services to a specific area or to a specific population, or, for a given population, based on discriminating factors, which may include socioeconomic status, education, literacy, special needs or disabilities, language barriers, and culturally or age appropriate design and delivery of services.