Disconnected: Photos tell the story

Whether you are new to the topic or work in the field, Disconnected will introduce you to new ideas and resources on closing the digital divide. From encouraging rural broadband to teaching digital skills to evaluating outcomes, “Disconnected” offers clear explanation and links to guidebooks and other resources for any community looking to bridge the gap between the digital haves and have nots.

Tri-County Telephone Association brings broadband service to businesses like Gayla Deines’ of Hope, Kansas. Rural areas struggle without access to broadband, which helps them retain younger residents and allows local businesses to reach a broad market. It also allows farms to conserve resources and increase profitability through precision agriculture. Photo by Preston Keres, USDA.

Middle-skill jobs require less than a bachelor’s degree while paying at least $15 an hour. About 46 percent of overall labor demand is for middle-skill jobs, and some 82 percent of all middle-skill jobs are now digitally intensive, according to an analysis by Burning Glass Technologies.

For Perkins, Oklahoma, resident Jenny Hernandez and her 10-year-old son, the wifi hotspots from the Perkins Public Library are their only source of home internet. Since she has been able to borrow the hotspots, her 10-year-old son has improved his reading level, which she says is mainly due to having access to digital library materials and educational games on the internet.

Distance and lack of public transportation makes it challenging for those in rural areas to access digital skills training. Funding from Google allowed Goodwill Industries of Kansas Inc. to take the show on the road. With a full-time program coordinator and 10 computer stations, the mobile computer lab has provided training in 35 rural communities throughout Kansas.

Digital inclusion coalitions focus on getting underserved residents access to affordable broadband, devices, training and tech support. Here, Stephenie Smith facilitates a discussion at a recent Kansas City Coalition for Digital Inclusion meeting, held monthly at the Kansas City Public Library.