Daily News

Digital Divide Virtual Forum Highlights Regional Equity Issues

SPRINGFIELD — State Sen. Eric Lesser and Dress for Success Western Massachusetts hosted a virtual forum this week on the ‘digital divide,’ focusing on the fight to plug in disconnected cities and towns across the Commonwealth as well as the prevalence of income-related issues with internet access.

Lesser and Margaret Tantillo, executive director of Dress for Success Western Massachusetts, were joined by experts and advocates in the region to discuss the high-level impact that broadband access has on remote learning, job training, and telehealth, as well as funding challenges in bridging the digital divide. The group stressed the transformative impacts of reliable, high-speed broadband service in unserved, underserved, and urban communities. The entire program can be viewed on Facebook by clicking here.

“I do think that it’s times of challenge that bring out the biggest opportunities,” Lesser said. “If we all work together to overcome COVID-19, learn where the gaps are, and make the big choices and decisions to close those gaps, I do feel confident that we can end up in a more equitable place and we can have a future where we do close the digital divide.”

During the forum, Tantillo also highlighted the Digital Literacy Task Force launched by Dress for Success Western Massachusetts back in June that strives to help guide women through their professional careers and provide resources needed for online meetings or learning. “Right now there are some resources,” she said, “but people don’t know how to access them or where to go.”