Deb helps the disadvantaged learn essential computer skills

Deb SociaAnyone looking for a job these days knows that the search is nearly all done online, from finding openings to submitting an application and résumé. Student research projects and scholarship applications have moved online, too.

But what if your only access to a computer or the Internet is for a half-hour at a school or public library? What if you don’t even have an e-mail account?

Those without Internet access (often people who are very poor) are finding it increasingly difficult to undertake essential everyday tasks like these.

An estimated 60 million people in the United States live without access to a home computer or the Internet, according to a study by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project. And an estimated 40 million people have access only to a smart phone, which is not the easiest way to fill out a job application or research and write a school paper.

Enter Deb Socia, a lifelong educator and former principal who has become a technology champion for the very poor, those with disabilities, seniors, and immigrants. Her goal is to help them gain access to and understand how to use the Internet – two things that most people take for granted.

Ms. Socia is the driving force behind Tech Goes Home, a program administered by OpenAirBoston, a nonprofit group that helps give Boston residents the tools, training, and access needed to successfully go online.

Tech Goes Home connects Boston residents who make $20,000 a year or less and who may have never sent an e-mail before with schools, community programs, and government agencies. Socia and her small team also raise funds and find volunteers to help these residents learn how to send e-mails, search for housing and jobs, and create and send digital résumés.

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