Digital Divide Has Grown Wider and Deeper During the Pandemic and Is Increasingly Hazardous to Our Health
The SF Connected Program provides seniors and people with disabilities with computer training and access to help keep them connected to friends, family, as well as health and other vital information. But the pandemic has worsen an already serious situation, disproportionately impacting older adults, persons with disabiilties, low income and communities of color.
How do we know? The recently completed 2021 Empowered San Francisco Technology Needs Assessment Report: Bridging the Digital Divide for San Francisco Residents with Disabilities and Older Adults. Download the Full Report here or Summary here.
What can you do? Read the Talking Points and call your representative! Download and share the information linked below.
Recommending an Approach To Bridge the Digital Divide
Join the Conversation on Facebook – KeepUsConnectedCampaign. Posts current updates, photos and videos to share.
COVID 19 triggered “stay at home” orders and the closing of senior centers, libraries, community centers – all the places that provided access to computers, the wifi, training and support. And they are expected to stay closed for months and months. Older adults, people with disabilities, those with compromised health remain virtually trapped at home. Wellness calls to former computer students found that approximately half lacked internet access at home, let alone have devices and support.
Current research shows that isolation is bad for your health. Connecting with others reduces depression and improves well-being. It increases willingness to take medications as prescribed, to get exercise, to eat better, and to find purpose and meaning. Connected living contributes to living longer and healthier lives as we age.
San Francisco has the highest proportion of seniors and adults with disabilities of any California city. Of those 75 and older, 36% live alone and are facing health and other mobility problems that can further increase isolation.
Computer training and Internet access alone won’t end isolation, but they provide a vital link for family, friends, service and health providers to reach out, to encourage and assist with more in-person activities. Paired with assistive technologies, it can help our neighbors overcome a vast range of physical and mental disabilities to help people stay in their own homes and communities. Yet COVID-19 has vastly widened the digital divide and left thousands of SF resident isolated and alone.
We ask your help in urging the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors to keep seniors and people with disabilities connected by continuing to build a bridge across the ever widening digital divideand move this technologically rich and innovative city closer to access to computers and the internet for all, including older adults and those with disabilities and chronic health issues.
Everybody wants to feel included. We need to stay connected to our family, our friends, our healthcare providers, to job and lifelong learning opportunities.
For seniors and people with disabilities computer trainers and volunteer tutors are our guides to using computers and the Internet. They are patient and friendly. They speak our language (Cantonese, Russian, Spanish, English and more) and understand our needs.
The SF Connected program has helped many of us. Before COVID 19, almost one third of SF seniors and people with disabilities were not online at home, and now they have no other place to go. .
Please continue to support SF Connected Campaign and commit $2.1 million annually so that the program can reach even more people. All seniors and people with disabilities deserve to stay connected.