Nationwide campaign aims to bridge the digital divide

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Reporter - Kendall Downing

CARBONDALE, Ill. - Which side of the digital divide are you on? Still, in this age of the Internet, 62 million Americans don't go online at all. That's one out of every five people.

For many, the Internet is now an integral tool in our daily lives. According to the Ad Council, 80% of teachers now give homework online and 80% of jobs are listed online instead of in newspapers.

Yet roughly 100 million Americans have no access to broadband internet at home because of a lack of availability or the expense.

That's why there is a new push to get help for those currently left out in the dark.

Mary Campbell admits technology's passed her by.

"It's a language I don't know," she said.

She held on as long as she could before finally giving in and joining the world of computer ownership.

"Just clinging to the old ways," said Campbell.

And that's why she was at Carbondale's library Thursday, getting free help, learning to be digitally literate.

"That's 62 million people who are missing out on an aspect of literacy in our society," said Diana Brawley Sussman, Carbondale Library Director.

Brawley Sussman said the divide is growing. With more parts of our society integrated online, Sussman believes there's a need for folks to know their way around a computer.

"People are really scrambling to try and fill that gap and learn the skills they need to get by," said Sussman.

The digital literacy class at the library is part of a nationwide "Everyone On" campaign launched Wednesday.

You can visit the "Everyone On" website, plug in your zip-code and find free computer classes and locations with Wifi.

"I got on Facebook, so I could stay in contact with my children," said Campbell.

Campbell said she's just getting used to her new tool, and from the way it sounds, practice might make perfect.

"Oh, that's not the right one," she said.

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