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digital inclusion

Assistive Technology Tips from Expert Librarians

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Assistive technology continues to be an important topic as public libraries strive to become more inclusive spaces for all members of the community. The American Library Association has a clear policy on accessibility:

"Libraries play a catalytic role in the lives of people with disabilities by facilitating their full participation in society. Libraries should use strategies based upon the principles of universal design to ensure that library policy, resources and services meet the needs of all people." 

Accessibility is also a big part of the Edge Initiative, an assessment program that provides libraries with benchmarks, best practices, and resources for public technology services. 

Edge Benchmark 11 states:

"Libraries ensure participation in digital technology for people with disabilities."

Sounds pretty straightforward, but how do you actually implement this practice? We invited three speakers on our February webinar to share their unique experiences with assistive technology:

Teens and Seniors Learn New Skills Through Genealogy

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Making Roots poster

I first got hooked on genealogy in library school — a reference services course to be exact. We had an assignment where we had to look up information about an ancestor using primary and secondary library resources. After that little taste, I was hooked and started exploring even more of my family's history (and yes, signed up for an Ancestry account).

Genealogy is a great way to learn library resources, but I never really considered how it might be a tool for digital inclusion until I heard about the Burlington (Washington) Public Library's ROOTS program.

Four Financial Literacy Ideas for Your Library

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Financial literacy can be both an intimidating topic to learn and teach. In October, we explored it in our Making Cents of Financial Literacy: Tech Tools and Innovative Programs webinar.

Our presenters came from libraries of different sizes:

They shared the innovative ways they're making financial literacy fun — for both patrons and staff!

E-Rate for the 21st Century: More Funding for Library Wi-Fi

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The Digital DivideFor the last 17 years, the E-rate program has helped provide schools and libraries across the U.S. with subsidized Internet service.

With almost one-third of Americans still not connected to the Internet, there has been consistent demand for increased E-rate funding. For example, TechSoup's donor partner, Mobile Beacon, has an infographic on its homepage showing that nearly 50 percent of U.S. libraries still lack sufficient Internet access to meet their patrons' needs.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) responded this July with an E-rate modernization plan to increase funding to libraries and schools for high-capacity Wi-Fi and broadband.

Take the ALA's Digital Inclusion Survey and See Your Library's Impact

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Every day, public libraries are on the front lines of digital inclusion. You might not know it, but you are a digital inclusion hero. Your public library is most likely doing the following:

  • Providing free Internet access
  • Teaching computer classes
  • Instructing teens on how to use the Internet safely
  • Helping patrons develop job skills
  • Providing access to health information

Why Net Neutrality Matters for Libraries

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On May 15, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to release a proposal to reinstate net neutrality rules. The proposal, written by FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, would allow Internet service providers (ISPs) to charge websites for faster services. What does this mean?  Companies can pay money to be in a virtual "fast lane" for sending content, leaving less lucrative websites in the dust. 

Internet Filtering: Don't Do It

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To filter or not to filter: that's a big decision public libraries face. Ever since the Supreme Court upheld the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA), libraries have felt pressure to filter Internet on public access computers.

Loaning Out Internet Access at the Providence Community Library

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Libraries offering free Internet access is nothing new. But the Providence Community Library (RI) is taking an innovative leap by allowing patrons to literally check out free home Internet access for a week.

How does Providence do it? They loan out Mobile Beacon hotspot devices.

Kansas City Library’s New Software Lending Library

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Inspired by the coming of ultra-fast gigabit broadband Internet to their city this year, the Kansas City Public Library has devised something new for public access computing – lending software over the Internet.

Will Facebook’s Internet.org Bridge the Global Digital Divide?

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Facebook’s new Internet.org initiative is a big news item in NPTech and global digital inclusion news. The program aims to develop very low-cost Internet on mobile phones to bring the 4 billion souls on earth who don't yet have Internet to the information age — or is it?

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