When it comes to learning how to get online and building confidence with digital tools, sometimes it all starts with a trusted voice in the community. In honor of National Digital Inclusion Week (October 3-7), we’re spotlighting one of those voices from the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area: Shawn Perry, Host of The Senior Zone – a radio program dedicated to supporting senior citizens.
A retired member of the U.S. Air Force, Perry lives by the motto “leave no one behind.” He has a passion for helping people, and in 2012 was inspired by his grandmother to start a radio program to promote the well-being of older adults and champion their causes. As technology has continued to evolve, Perry has taken a keen interest in helping seniors access the Internet and ensure they are not left behind in efforts to close the digital divide.
That’s why Perry has recently become a Digital Navigator – an individual from a trusted community organization trained to help people access the Internet, use devices and build digital skills. In a recent study, the Boston Consulting Group found that of people who’ve received help from Digital Navigators:
- More than 85% said they used the Internet more frequently
- More than 65% said they obtained Internet access or a computer or tablet at home
- 1 in 3 found a new job or increased their income
- 40% received support with basic needs like food, rent and housing
“Learning how to get online and use digital devices can be intimidating for many older adults, but these are game-changing tools that can better their lives and keep them connected to family and friends,” said Perry. “Over the past several years, we’ve seen just how isolating it can be if you don’t have the know-how and skills to get online, and I’m proud to embrace the role of a Digital Navigator and help seniors take that first step.”
Hear more from Perry and about his commitment to digital equity here:
As part of his radio program, Perry recently launched a “Technology Zone” series in partnership with Comcast, which brings together voices from around the Beltway to help spread awareness of free and low-cost Internet options and promote digital skills development programs.
A central theme of the “Technology Zone” series has been driving awareness and adoption of the federal government’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides eligible low-income households with a credit up to $30 per month ($75 per month for households on qualifying tribal lands) toward their Internet and/or mobile service. Through ACP, eligible Comcast customers can use their credit toward any tier of Xfinity Internet, including Internet Essentials or Internet Essentials Plus – both of which provide home Internet at no cost once the federal credit is applied. Internet Essentials customers can also add a line of unlimited 5G cellular data ($45) through Xfinity Mobile for as little as $24.95/month after the ACP benefit is applied.
Recent episodes of the “Technology Zone” series included:
- “Accelerating Digital Skills for Seniors” with Misty Allen, Vice President of Government & Regulatory Affairs for Comcast’s Beltway Region; and Maurice Cook, Executive Director for Serve Your City
- “Lowering Internet Costs” with Amanda Gimble, Director of Aging Connected from Older Adult Technology Services (OATS)
- “Saving Seniors $$$ on Internet & Mobile Services” with Doug Frost, Chairman for the Alliance for Arlington Senior Programs
“Helping senior citizens learn about the Affordable Connectivity Program is a perfect example of what my mission was all about when I launched The Senior Zone,” said Perry. “We are talking about a program that provides low-income seniors with free Internet access – but the biggest challenge is ensuring they are aware of it and have the support needed to sign up. I’ve talked to so many seniors who were thrilled to hear about this program for the first time, and through my partnership with Comcast, I’ve seen just how big of an impact we can make in helping seniors get online while saving on their bills.”
In addition to the “Technology Zone” radio series, Perry hosts regular community events in the DMV area where residents can learn about free and low-cost Internet options and digital skills development programs. For example, at a recent Senior Zone event hosted at a community center in Northeast D.C., where more than a hundred residents came out for a day of dancing and activities, Perry partnered with Comcast to host an ACP awareness booth.
“I love being out in the community and having a great time with seniors, while also ensuring they can walk away with information about programs such as ACP and Comcast’s Internet Essentials that can help them stay connected when they get home,” said Perry. “I’m thrilled with the progress we’ve made so far in helping more seniors get online, but I know there are still so many out there who can use help starting their digital journey. That’s what keeps me going.”
This partnership with The Senior Zone is part of Project UP, Comcast’s comprehensive initiative to advance digital equity and help build a future of unlimited possibilities. Backed by a $1 billion commitment over the next 10 years to reach tens of millions of people, Project UP encompasses programs and community partnerships that connect people to the Internet, advance economic mobility, and open doors for the next generation of innovators, entrepreneurs, storytellers, and creators.
To learn more about Perry and The Senior Zone, visit http://www.theseniorzone.com/ or tune in to The Senior Zone radio show every Monday at 10AM EST on WYCB, 1340AM.