For example, while teleworking does not require high levels of competency, it does require technology tools and software, a broadband Internet connection, training, and a productive work space at home. As teleworking rapidly expands (as is the case due to the COVID-19 stay-at-home order), technology will evolve and become more sophisticated. The burden to “keep up” may fall to the individual. While these capabilities will be attainable for much of the population, keeping up will be a significant burden for those who indicate cost/affordability is their number one inhibitor to having necessary technology. Even when necessary technology can be obtained, associated training, a critical factor to technology adoption, must be sought after and provided.
For example, abilitynet.org, an organization that supports people living with disabilities in using technologies at home, at work, and in education, lists seven key areas where virtual reality can prove useful to people living with disabilities. This includes everything from trying “out of reach” experiences, such as climbing a mountain, to wayfaring in new locations, help improving motor skills and giving caregivers and others close to the person living with a disability a better idea of what that person might be going through by simulating their experience in a virtual world.
One rapidly advancing technology, Artificial Intelligence (A.I.), has the capability to benefit underserved communities. Key sector representatives including local government officials from the City of Gresham and Multnomah County, school district representatives,, and non-profit DIN members, talked about advances in A.I. and the Internet of Things (IoT) being especially helpful to augment human capacity, such as: assisting persons with disabilities; translating information into multiple languages; providing residents multiple ways to receive information through a Kiosk; and the like. A.I. has substantial potential to remove barriers for those that provide services to and support underserved and diverse communities. It also has the ability to assist entrepreneurs in more cost-effective and efficient development of new products and services and enable wider and more comprehensible outreach to the community at large.
Advanced technologies require an investment cost, which may be easily affordable to the “haves”, but may not be achievable for the “have-nots”. Unless such technology is designed and applied through a creative, user-centered design process, especially in the personal-use environment, it could serve to widen the digital inclusion gap.