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Jimmie Williams: To Build Digital Literacy in DC, Bridge the Connectivity Gap

For thousands of DC’s adults, improving literacy skills can be an essential tool for completing education, getting and keeping a decent job, and staying out of poverty. Increasingly, however, digital literacy has become just as important to lifting up communities across the District.

Though traditional literacy is closely connected to digital literacy, the latter encompasses much more than reading and writing. According to the American Library Association’s Digital Literacy Task Force, digital literacy is the ability to use technology to “find, evaluate, create and communicate information and requires both cognitive and technical skills.” In today’s online world, those lacking in digital literacy face barriers to essential activities such as finding a job and accessing health care, education and housing.

Students, young adults, business owners and older populations can all struggle with digital literacy in different ways, but lack of access disproportionately affects already marginalized communities. Research shows over 119,000 adults in the District read below the first-grade level, with a disproportionate share of that group residing in wards 5, 7 and 8; meanwhile, it’s estimated that about 15% of DC households lack a broadband subscription...


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