Digital Literacy In the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Communities

May 21, 2024

A Qualitative Report of Digital Literacy In the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Communities

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic, communities across the nation experienced the digital divide. In March 2021, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, along with Comcast, co-hosted a Digital Convening that brought together eighteen AANHPI serving organizations to discuss what the digital divide looks like in their respective communities.

They discussed how the digital divide includes insufficient broadband access, a lack of equipment, and a need for greater education. The community partners also shared their expertise on the ability of their communities to access digital services before, during, and after the pandemic. The participating organizations represented 12 states. They included states with large Asian American populations like New York and Hawaii, but also states where some may not expect to find Asian Americans, such as Arkansas and Nebraska. Together, these organizations represented populations from varying Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander ethnicities and backgrounds from across the United States.

Recurring themes during the conversation included accessibility, education, workforce development, and safety. Every organization explained how programmatic success depended on first getting their communities access to devices, then getting them online, and finally teaching their communities how to navigate both their devices and the internet.

Learnings from the Convening indicate that the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the digital divide. More than ever, AANHPI individuals need broadband access to stay connected to communities, access healthcare and educational opportunities, and participate in government programs that are designed to bring them relief.

Broadband access will remain an important service for AANHPI communities to access new opportunities, care, government programs and benefits, and connections to their loved ones even beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Communities will continue to rely on internet connections and digital literacy training to maintain their well-being and livelihoods.