aarp west virginia

As a retired NASA engineer and technology enthusiast, Ron Schlagheck is grateful for a fast Internet connection at his rural home near Winchester, Tenn. “I like to have access to information,” said Schlagheck, 73, a volunteer for AARP Tennessee whose career involved managing international teams that oversaw repairs to the Hubble Space Telescope and delivered scientific payloads on Skylab, Space Shuttle missions, and the International Space Station. Lately, he’s helped AARP make the case to Tennessee legislators that they need to expand access to broadband – another name for high-speed Internet. “We have so many rural communities that have very limited access to the Internet or none at all,” he said. Across the country, AARP staff and volunteers like Schlagheck are working to build awareness of the potential for broadband and are convincing policymakers to find solutions to Internet coverage gaps – the so-called Digital Divide – that are prevalent in many places, especially low-income communities. Experts say these areas are often the last to get broadband and often at slower speeds, leaving people in these communities at an ongoing disadvantage. Access to affordable, reliable, and truly high-speed broadband access has the ability to improve equity and make communities more livable for all. While broadband is a burgeoning advocacy topic, it’s an ideal one for AARP, says Coralette Hannon, who coordinates the association’s work on state and local telecommunications advocacy. “Home broadband, whether it’s through mobile devices or home computers, holds especially promising opportunities for older people,” Hannon said. “Broadband helps keep people socially connected, but it also enables access to healthcare services, entertainment, distance learning, telehealth, and other activities that contribute to successful aging.” Here’s how:
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