Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Digital Navigators and the Device Divide: Community Voices from Seven U.S. Cities

Digital Navigators Are Helping Communities Overcome Barriers to Digital Access

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, digital equity has become an increasingly critical issue in the United States. To address this issue, Digital Navigators have emerged as vital figures in the pursuit of digital inclusion. These dedicated individuals undergo specialized training called digital navigation, equipping themselves with the skills to help their communities overcome barriers to digital access.

Today, Digitunity has released an original research report titled "Digital Navigators and the Device Divide: Community Voices from Seven U.S. Cities." The report, authored by leading digital inclusion expert Maribel Martinez of Maribel Martinez Consulting, delves into the experiences and insights of Digital Navigators in bridging the device divide. The study involved interviews with seven Digital Navigators from across the United States, including Alabama, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, New York, and Virginia.

One of the key findings from the study is the importance of matching the right device to each client from the outset, as emphasized by 50% of the participants. However, the report also highlights significant challenges faced by Digital Navigators, with 86% unable to procure devices for their clients through the Affordable Connectivity Program's one-time device discount. Additionally, 43% described their experiences in sourcing large-screen devices for clients as unsuccessful, often recommending clients to visit large retailers for computer purchases. On the other hand, partnerships, collaboration, and pipelines emerged as recurring themes among the 57% of participants who found success in sourcing large-screen devices.

Maribel Martinez, author of the report, commented, "Beyond robust, quality training and ongoing practitioner support, a Digital Navigator's success is almost wholly dependent on the availability of quality large-screen computing devices, affordable broadband plans, and computer training resources they can source on behalf of the clients they serve. The aim of this research study was to better understand Digital Navigators' experiences, shine a light on their challenges with procuring large-screen computing devices, and gather insights for how to improve the affordable device procurement process overall, in the hopes that the findings not only inform the complex problem of the widening device divide in the United States but catalyze lasting solutions so that everyone who needs a computer can obtain one."

Alongside the key findings mentioned earlier, the study provides valuable insights into various aspects of the digital navigation landscape. These additional findings shed light on the multifaceted challenges faced by Digital Navigators and the communities they serve. For example, local partnerships and hyperlocal device ecosystems show promise in addressing these challenges. Additionally, empowering Digital Navigators with enhanced computer procurement resources will be instrumental in narrowing the digital divide and ensuring affordable and accessible large-screen devices for all.

"As the prevalence of Digital Navigator programs increases, it is not a panacea for solving digital equity issues," states Karisa Tashjian, Director of Programs for Digitunity. "Digital Navigators play a critical role, however, the required resources need to be in place when referring clients to applicable solutions. In the case of access to devices, it is clear that now is the time to ensure that sustainable device ecosystems are put in place or their referrals will be fruitless."

From the importance of tailored device matching to the impact of partnerships and collaboration, the report offers a comprehensive perspective on the intricate dynamics of digital inclusion efforts. It is clear that these findings, along with others uncovered in the study, reinforce the imperative for continued research, discussions, and investments to bridge the device divide. By exploring and acting upon these insights, we can work towards a future where digital equity is a reality for all.

To gain in-depth knowledge of the research findings and engage in valuable discussion on this topic, Digitunity is hosting a webinar on August 2, 2023, at 2 p.m. Eastern, where Maribel Martinez will provide a comprehensive overview of the report. During the webinar, Martinez will explore the key findings in detail, present additional insights uncovered in the study, and share her expert analysis of the digital navigation landscape.

Don't miss this chance to dive deeper into this important research. Register now for this live webinar on August 2, 2023, by visiting Limited spots are available, so secure your place today.

About Maribel Martinez Consulting

Maribel Martinez Consulting, based in Miami, Florida, is a minority woman-owned small business consulting firm working at the intersection of equity and technology. The firm specializes in connecting people to digital spaces through digital equity planning and implementation, educational professional development and technology integration, and digital skills curricula and training for all ages.

The firm's principal, Maribel Martinez, brings over 25 years of experience in national digital inclusion leadership, nonprofit management, business development, K-12 education management, professional development and coaching, and technology education. For more information, visit

About Digitunity

Digitunity connects corporate and individual donors of technology to thousands of partner organizations serving people in need across North America. With a proven body of work and a national network of member organizations, Digitunity is working to ensure all barriers that limit equitable opportunity to participate in our digitally-connected society are removed. Learn more at

Contact Information:
Maria Penaloza
[email protected]

Original Source: Digital Navigators and the Device Divide: Community Voices from Seven U.S. Cities
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