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Broadband: Low Income, Accessibility, Training, and Senior Programs

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Broadband: Low Income, Accessibility, Training, and Senior Programs
Published on: 8/19/2012 12:00 AM

There are several programs available in our community to assist residents in bridging the digital divide. 

  • Low Income Family Internet Access and Computer Program (Connect2Compete program)
  • Free Public Accessible WiFi and Access to Internet Connected Computers
  • Computer Access and Assistive Technology for People with Disabilities
  • Digital Literacy and Senior Training Programs

Low Income Family Internet Access and Computer Program

Connect2Compete (C2C) is a public-private collaboration committed to improving the lives of low-income Americans by building awareness, promoting digital literacy training, and increasing access to technology. The cable industry is a major partner who offers the program locally in Nevada County with both our local providers of Comcast and SuddenLink participating. The program is offered to families with a child receiving free or reduced price school lunches through the National School Lunch Program. 

Program provides:
  1. $9.95 + tax per month Internet service.
  2. $149.00+ tax computer.
  3. Free Internet training and resources

Comcast offers their Internet Essentials program (Connect2Compete).  The program is provided to residents in Comcast's service areas of Grass Valley, Nevada City, Lake Wild Wood, Penn Valley and their immediate surrounding areas.

Contact at link above and

Call 1-855-8-INTERNET

Suddenlink is piloting their Connect2Compete program in another county in CA right now and expects to bring it to Nevada County in 2013  Their local service areas are Alta Sierra, Lake of the Pines, Donner Summit / Soda Springs area, and the Town of Truckee.

Website is here: http://www.suddenlink.com/internet/
Call 877-694-9474


The Federal Communications Commission Lifeline Program

Lifeline is a government benefit program supported by the Universal Service Fund that provides a discount on phone service for qualifying low-income consumers. Lifeline helps ensure that eligible consumers have the opportunities and security that phone service brings, including being able to connect to jobs, family, and emergency services.  To participate in the  program, consumers must either have an income that is at or below 135% of the federal Poverty Guidelines or participate in one of the following assistance programs:

• Medicaid
• Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps or SNAP)
• Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
• Federal Public House Assistance (Section 8)
• Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
• Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)
• National School Lunch Program's Free Lunch Program
• Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
• Tribally-Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TTANF)
• Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)
• Head Start (if income eligibility criteria are met)
• State assistance programs (if applicable)

They are starting a pilot program to expand this beyond phone service to broadband service.  Stay tuned for more information as this develops.  The FCC Lifeline program website is here:

Free Public Accessible WiFi and Access to Internet Connected Computers
There area a number of locations for residents to access high speed Internet and computers in our community.  All our Public Libraries have free WiFi available, so bring your laptop and surf the web.  Patrons can also use public computer stations and checkout notebooks to use in the branches.  The new middle mile broadband project coming to our community will upgrade the main Library's Internet speed to 1Gbs!!  WiFi is also available throughout the County's Government Center, Courthouse and other locations.  Many local cafe's, restaurants, and businesses provide free WiFi as well.


Computer Access and Assistive Technology for People with Disabilities

The FREED Center for Independent Living offers several services. FREED’s Mission is to eliminate barriers to full equality for people with disabilities through programs which promote independent living and effect systems change, while honoring dignity and self determination. FREED is a gateway to expanded choices and options at any age.

  1. Computers with Internet Access are available at the FREED offices
  2. Assistive Technology = AT = Tools & Devices to Support Daily Living
  3. Adaptive computer devices and software may be available to accommodate certain disabilities

FREED Center for Independent Living
117 New Mohawk Rd, Suite A
Nevada City, CA 95959
(530) 265-4444 voice
(530) 265-4944 TTY
(530) 265-4644 Fax
(800) 655-7732 Toll Free 

Below are some useful sites dedicated to providing web accessibility tools, services and information:
TechMatrix is a product of the National Center for Technology Innovation (NCTI) and Center for Implementing Technology in Education (CITEd) and offers assistive and learning technology products for students with special needs as well as learn what questions to ask and how to make informed tech decisions.
Able Data provides objective information on more than 35,000 assistive products available to consumers, organizations, professionals, and caregivers within the United States. On their site you can research information on assistive products, as well as information about the companies that make and sell them.
The Center for Accessible Technology provides access to computers for people with disabilities so children with disabilities can succeed in school, adults with disabilities can find and keep jobs, and all people with disabilities can benefit from the digital revolution.  The Accessible Technology Coalition, a project of the Center for Accessible Technology, launched a website to help people with disabilities, and those who work with them, make informed decisions about assistive technology.  The Coalition is training 500 service providers and disability issues specialists to use their website.


Adaptive Hardware

Adaptive hardware devices can additionally be used to make accessing the computer and navigating the web easier for those with disabilities. Below is a list of such devices available for purchase.
Adaptive Hardware for Vision Impairments:
  • Braille Devices such as printers, embossers, readers, portable displays, and note-taking devices.
  • Closed Circuit Televisions (CCTVs)provide video magnification of print and other materials. Users can place a book, image, or text underneath a camera or lens and the magnified image is rendered on a video screen.
  • Headsets allow users to hear audio text privately, while the attached microphone allows for hands-free use of voice recognition software
  • Large Monitors of 20 inch or more provide more room for enlarged text and graphics
  • Magnabrite Magnifier is a solid acrylic 4x light-gathering magnifier. It intensifies the light that passes through it, making the magnified subject clearer and nearly four times brighter.
  • Scanners with optical character recognition (OCR) software convert print materials in to electronic text which can be read by the computer.
  • A Tactile Image Enhancer creates an upraised impression of an image on specially made paper, allowing people with visual difficulties to feel the contours of the image.
Adaptive Hardware for Mobility Impairments:
  • Adjustable Height Tables and Chairs can help with strained or injured backs.
  • Special Mice, Keyboards and Pointing Devices that are more ergonomic can make it easier to navigate the computer and more comfortable on your body.
  • Tablet PCs can capture handwritten notes allowing users to write directly on the screen (with a non-ink digital pen) while the tablet translates the handwriting into keyboard-style text.

Digital Literacy and Senior Training Programs

The County created the award winning Collaborative Technology Center as part of our main Library branch location in Nevada City.  A wide collaboration of community partners came together to support and implement this project which brings free, ultra high speed 1Gbs Internet access on a wide variety of the newest wireless, computer, and tablet systems, in a dedicated technology use space for our local residents.   The Library also has many online services and video based digital literacy, job searching , and resume building course available for free.  

The Gold Country Computer Learning Center provides low-cost classes and has taught computer skills to over 4,500 people in our community, many of whom had no previous computer experience.  The GCCLC started in 2000 as part of SeniorNet, a nationwide organization that serves over 240 learning centers and 40,000 members in the U.S. Since then, over 2,500 area residents have graduated from their programs, all eagerly looking for ways to use their new skills.

The Gold Country Computer Learning Center is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, managed and completely run by 60 volunteers who contribute over 5,500 hours per year to GCCLC.  Classes range from basics to Excel and Word, Internet, e-mail and managing digital photographs. Classroom computers are equipped with Microsoft Windows 7 and Windows XP, Microsoft Works and Office 2011.

They provide a friendly, enthusiastic environment where students can learn to use computers and share computing experiences.  They are helping to build a community of computer literate adults who are able to manage information and graphics, use email, and experience the World Wide Web (Internet).

Located at:

Gate 2 Nevada County Fairgrounds, Grass Valley, CA 95949
(530) 273-0497


The Connect2Compete program is a public-private collaboration committed to improving the lives of low-income Americans by building awareness, promoting digital literacy training, and increasing access to technology. 

Through a partnership with Best Buy’s Geek Squad and America’s public libraries, Connect2Compete will offer in-person digital literacy training in communities nationwide and free online digital literacy training.

The Foundation for California Community Colleges is proud to announce California Connects, a new program and website that will increase digital literacy and expand broadband Internet access to underserved populations throughout the state. The program is funded by a $10.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration for Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP).

Lots of good digital literacy training is available on their website. 



The Nevada County Library offers free Digital training from Atomic

A video-based how-to training resource, Atomic Training opens up unlimited access to thousands of short videos covering more than 500 of today's most popular software applications on both PCs and Macs.
  • All the latest offerings — Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, Google, and more
  • Valuable job training — Improve job skills with in-depth training on Excel and Photoshop, or learn valuable social media techniques with tutorials on Twitter, blogging, and podcasting
  • Mobile training — Learn how to use mobile products such as the iPhone and iPad
  • Access anywhere — Watch videos at the library or remotely from home
  • ADA Accessibility — All videos are closed captioned Accessibility Statement


Another great free Digital Literacy site with 750 courses funded by the Goodwill Community Foundation: