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Getting More Older Americans Online

April 6th, 2010 by Mark Wigfield - Spokesman, Omnibus Broadband Initiative.

OBI Executive Director Blair Levin provided introductory remarks at an event sponsored by a group whose mission is to increase broadband adoption among older Americans, called Project GOAL (Get Older Adults Online).  The Plan reported that only 35% of older Americans have broadband at home, compared to 65% of the general public. The Plan makes a number of recommendations designed to increase adoption rates for older Americans.

Thank you, Debra, for the introduction.

And many thanks for your many contributions in helping develop America’s Broadband plan.

In the preface to the Broadband Plan, we asserted America itself was the author of the Plan.

True--our team at the FCC put the final pen to paper, locked for months in a conference room full of old drafts and cheap Chinese food and Pizza—please don’t tell the First Lady about our diet.

But we really believe America wrote this Plan because so many helped in its formation.

The public contributed ideas:

  • in hearings across the country, from San Diego to Charleston;  and
  • in the more than 30 workshops held at the FCC, which were simulcast online so that everybody could participate—as long as they had a broadband connection.

[Read the full speech here.]

One Response to “Getting More Older Americans Online”

  1. Jim Tobias says:

    Seniors are like the rest of the population in many ways regarding broadband adoption: they want to hear a compelling set of reasons for buying and using broadband, and they want it at a decent price.

    They're supposed to be somewhat more sensitive to issues of usability. This, I fear, is often being put forward as a digital literacy deficit. Make the interfaces easy enough to use, and the training need drops to nothing.

    But where seniors are quite different from the rest of society is the degree to which disabilities actually interfere with their ability to use broadband services. Be they physical, cognitive, sensory, or a combination, disabilities can pose insuperable barriers to use. Moreover, past unsuccessful attempts to use technology may color the attitudes of seniors.

    Until we address these accessibility issues all along the broadband value chain, some of our nation's most jeopardized potential users will remain outside the charmed circle.

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