Striving for equity in internet access and online services
According to a recent City of Seattle Digital Equity Report, nearly 30% of Seattle parents who only have internet access via smartphone or tablet report hitting data limits that limited their access; more than 20% had their phones cut off for nonpayment.
- We continue to expand access to technology and the internet for people in Seattle. Our SPL HotSpot program provides 675 Wi-Fi hotspots that can be checked out by Library patrons to provide internet access anywhere. We also reserve 325 hotspots for communities most in need of internet access; some are installed long-term in tiny house villages, ensuring uninterrupted Internet service and all its benefits for residents.
- All of our 27 locations have free public Wi-Fi and computers with internet access for our patrons to use. We also loan tablets and laptops for patrons to use in the Library, lowering the barrier to technology access for many who may not be able to use these resources elsewhere.
- Since 2014, we have worked with partners including the Somali Family Safety Task Force and the Seattle Housing Authority to hold 10-week digital literacy classes for immigrant women that take place at the housing sites where they live. The women learn how to open programs, save files, create email accounts and search the Internet. Perhaps most important, they learn how to navigate the Seattle Public Schools website and parent portal. More than 130 women have taken the classes to date.
- Our website was recently redesigned to be as accessible to as many people as possible and meet at least level AA conformance to web content accessibility, which we achieved. The Race & Social Justice Initiative change team assigned a small work team to help guide the website redesign project. This team developed an equity impact statement for the project, which was central to all design decisions. This work team was instrumental in defining needs for public input, testing and language support.
We added web content in several key languages to serve speakers of other languages in Seattle and added the ability to auto-translate into all “tier one” languages identified by the city of Seattle.