October 6, 2009 – The Federal Communication Commission hosted a “field hearing” in Charleston, S.C., on October 6, 2009, as part of as part of its series of workshops and testimony in preparing a national broadband plan. One panel at the hearing focused on expanding digital literacy to the elderly, and to those whose professions rely heavily on the Internet.
Finding ways to help mend the health care system was also on the agenda. Having seamless medical care would be ideal for older populations, said Otha Meadows, CEO of Trident Area Agency on Aging. It would be beneficial to have a patient’s medical records travel from one state to facilitated specialized health care.
Doing so would also provide better statistics and vital signs taken from the patient through broadband from the comfort of their own home, and not at the doctor’s office.
However, telemedicine is not the only aspect of society that has affected by the advances of broadband.
Federal Communications Commissioner Michael Copps highlighted the fact that, as he said, “75 percent of Fortune 500 Companies hire their employees off the web.” Such a development might be beneficial from the perspective of reducing printing costs, but Copps said the move was is detrimental to those without computer skills, or any form of education on how to use the Internet.
“One out of four people aren’t able to get a job if they don’t have the right amount of digital literacy,” said Nicole Turner-Lee, vice president and director, Media and Technology Institute, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.
Even if a person obtains a job in this troubled times, “workforce training is set online,” according to Julius Hollis, chairman of Alliance for Digital Equality.
“No job search is effective without access to a computer,” added Meadows of the Trident Urban League.
“At the Urban League, we talk about providing services in convenient and natural locations,” Meadows said. “And I think that is applicable to what we need to talk about or consider when we talk about broadband technology.”
Also speaking on the panel was Federal Communications Commissioner Mignon Clyburn. She said the FCC was “focused on being transparent and asking for an opinion from the public,” to which will help shape the plan for national broadband.
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