NEW YORK, Dec. 16, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Thousands of Washington, DC seniors today took part in a remote resource fair -- hosted by Aging Connected, an initiative of Older Adults Technology Services (OATS) from AARP -- to learn about getting connected to the Internet. Today's event, organized with support from Comcast, provided a platform for older adults to hear directly from experts about low-cost Internet programs, including Internet Essentials from Comcast; government benefit programs, including the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) and the new Affordable Connectivity Program; and free classes to learn to safely use a computer, provided by Senior Planet from AARP.
According to research procured by the Aging Connected initiative, nearly 80% of Washington, DC residents ages 18-64 have in-home wireline broadband, while just 62% of Washington, DC residents ages 65+ do -- resulting in a significant access gap and underscoring the opportunity we must seize to close it.
Last month, President Biden signed into law a bipartisan infrastructure bill that includes $65 billion to improve high speed Internet access and affordability and expand the number of Americans eligible for discounted Internet service. The infrastructure bill introduces a permanent version of the temporary EBB, called the Affordable Connectivity Program. Aging Connected will focus its efforts in the coming months on empowering older adults with the information, resources and support systems needed to get connected to the Internet.
"We are elated to have so many older adults from DC join us for today's remote resource fair. It's evident from today's turnout and engagement that Washington, DC seniors want to learn more about using the Internet and how they can get connected," said Amanda Gimble, Director of Aging Connected. "Too many older adults in Washington, DC, and around the country, lack access to affordable, high-speed Internet connection, and Aging Connected is on a mission to break down the connectivity gap that currently exists. We look forward to working with our partners in the local community to ensure older adults have the skills and resources needed to engage in the digital world."
"The Internet has become such a central part of our society, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, and there is no reason why older adults should be left out," said Tom Kamber, Founder and Executive Director of OATS from AARP. "Connecting older adults to the Internet is at the heart of what we do at OATS, and it was wonderful to see so many seniors take part in today's event to learn more about the services and classes available to make affordable, high-speed broadband service a reality. The bottom line is that Internet access will empower so many older adults to better participate in everyday life. We have an incredible opportunity in front of us to bring more older adults online, and OATS is ready to take on this challenge."
"Older adults, especially those living in underserved communities, are too frequently left out of the conversation around Internet access, and not provided with the tools needed to learn and understand how to use the Internet," said Dr. Nicol Turner Lee, a senior fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution and the moderator of today's remote resource fair. "Events like today's remote resource fair are so important to breaking down the psychological and societal barriers that still exist, and show older adults how easy and cost-effective it is to get connected. It's wonderful to be part of a program that's fully committed to digital equity and working with seniors to get online."
"Washington, DC is home to many incredible older adults, who we are proud to work with every day," said Le'Anetta Tolar-Obasanjo, Director at Seabury Resources for Aging in Washington, DC. "At Seabury Resources for Aging, we know that the Internet and technology usage can play a major role in improving seniors' quality of life and keeping them connected with loved ones. We are proud to partner with Aging Connected and Comcast on today's remote resource fair, and are excited to continue to do our part to help get older adults connected and close the digital divide."
"We are excited to continue our longstanding partnership with OATs through this incredible and timely event for seniors," said Steve Hackley, Senior Vice President, Community Connections, Comcast. "Comcast launched Internet Essentials ten years ago because we recognized that having a home Internet connection would open a world of expanded possibilities for all Americans. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of connectivity in today's digital world, and we are working tirelessly alongside our partners and the federal government to help ensure that every senior can participate fully in the digital world. Internet Essentials, Comcast's comprehensive broadband adoption program, is uniquely positioned to support seniors by offering fixed and consistent pricing, dedicated customer support, and access to digital skills training."
In addition to learning more about getting connected, the remote resource fair will provide information about a contest where 15 older adults will be awarded a Chromebook. Participants, or trusted friends on their behalf, have until December 30 at 11:59 pm EST, 2021, to enter, and winners will be notified at the end of January, 2022.
In January 2021, OATS and the Humana Foundation released a report, "Aging Connected: Exposing the Hidden Connectivity Crisis for Older Adults," which found that 22 million U.S. seniors -- representing 42 percent of the nation's over-65 population -- lacked broadband access at home.
Older Adults Technology Services (OATS) from AARP helps older adults learn to use and leverage technology to transform their lives and their communities. Through its flagship program, Senior Planet, OATS works closely with older adults to create extraordinary experiences in-person and online. The mission of OATS is "to harness the power of technology to change the way we age." OATS is a charitable affiliate of AARP. To learn more, visit www.oats.org or follow @OlderAdultsTech on social media.
Contact: Dean Pearce, [email protected]
SOURCE Older Adults Technology Services from AARP