III. Focus on Community Benefits

Digital equity visions extend beyond access to broadband and devices to focus on community benefits—programs and activities that respond to community needs as identified by individuals in those communities. A focus on community benefits should help increase understanding of the social impact of programs and policies on the intended communities; achieving community benefits in this way will help increase community indicators of health, financial security, education, and civic engagement.

Digital equity visions and plans must include delivering the programs and services necessary to ensure that all individuals in the United States have sustainable access to, and the ability to use, affordable information and communication technologies, including digital literacy training, quality technical support, and applications and online content designed to enable and encourage self-determination, collaboration, and participation in society.

Just as important as leveraging the positive potential of connectivity is the imperative to create secure online spaces, and to provide training and support for those seeking to safely engage in online and digital activity. These protections—critical for communities disproportionately experiencing harms including digital discrimination, data extraction, and fraud—are also critical to achieving digital equity.

With this in mind, we offer the following principles:

  1. Advance and ensure digital safety, privacy, and well-being. Digital equity visions and efforts must center choice, privacy, safety, and digital health at their core, and must empower participants with the tools and skills needed to navigate risks and avoid harms associated with digital environments.
  2. Technology should open opportunities, not create or sustain barriers for people. Digital equity efforts should reduce and remove a full range of barriers through universal design (including multilingual availability) and inclusive access for those with disabilities, which benefits all people and society broadly.