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New AARP-Sponsored Resource Helps States Improve Internet Access

Close up of woman's hand typing on computer keyboard in the dark against colourful bokeh in background, working late on laptop at home
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En español | States have a new AARP-supported playbook to help them close the digital divide and provide affordable and reliable internet to everyone, including older adults.

AARP worked with the National Digital Inclusion Alliance to sponsor the creation of a manual that highlights models, best practices and real-life examples to support states implementing digital equity programs.

The State Digital Equity Implementation Manual was released Thursday, after the federal government opened applications for its Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program.

That program allocates more than $800 million to help states and territories identify and address gaps in internet accessibility and overcome barriers to reliable and affordable connectivity. The grants are part of a broader federal effort to improve internet access, which was championed by AARP and included as part of the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law .

“Substantial funds headed to states beginning this year represent a generational opportunity to tear down the digital divide in our country,” said Tim Morstad, an AARP government affairs director who handles digital equity issues. “This manual is a how-to guide to make sure that happens.”

The manual builds on work our state offices have been doing to help state broadband officials develop digital equity plans that meet the needs of older adults.

Nearly 22 million Americans 65 and older lack wired broadband access at home, according to a report commissioned by OATS from AARP in 2020. Better connectivity can help older adults navigate online government services, attend virtual medical appointments, find a job and stay socially connected, Morstad said.

“It will improve their quality of life and help them to safely age in place,” he said.

Learn more about AARP’s work to promote digital equity and keep up with our technology coverage.

Natalie Missakian covers federal and state policy and writes AARP’s Fighting for You Every Day blog. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Haven Register and daily newspapers in Ohio. She has also written for the AARP Bulletin, the Hartford Business Journal and other publications.

Also of Interest:

How to Find a Cheap Internet Plan
Older Adults Worry About Internet Access as Affordable Connectivity Program Ends
High-Speed Internet Access Is Finally Coming to Rural America

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