Computer skills are becoming something that are increasingly challenging to avoid. That means limited options for those who don’t have easy access to digital training.

Every other Tuesday at the community center in Camillus outside Syracuse, you’ll find Lydia Torres of LiteracyCNY, offering digital literacy lessons to seniors like Kathleen who visit the center.

“I have a friend in Auburn and I ask her questions, but I can’t keep bothering people,” she said.

An extension of their general literacy services, Torres said the lessons are for people like Kathleen who are impacted by the digital divide and either want to or need to learn, but aren’t sure where to start.

What You Need To Know

  • Computer skills are becoming something that is increasingly challenging to avoid

  • That means limited options for those who don’t have easy access to digital training

  • LiteracyCNY offers digital literacy lessons at select locations, including senior centers so that older individuals can have easy access

“Many times adults are often embarrassed about not having some of the skills in the same way the folks who have low literacy levels might often times be embarrassed,” she said.

Older people and low-income individuals are being hit the hardest by the digital literacy gap. Torres says as a society we’ve reached a point in which options for individuals who don’t have basic computer and internet skills are vanishing.

“Even using a POS system at a grocery store requires a certain level of familiarity with technology,” she said.

Torres blames post-pandemic trends for making even applying for one of those jobs a digital experience, a challenge for older people in a world where retirement isn’t always an easy option.

“Many companies decided to phase out paper job applications and instead choose online applications,” she said.

So, she says if you are in need of help, reach out to them, one of their partners across the state, or a similar program in your area.

“If you are somebody that owns a tablet just to read books and use Facebook, then we can teach you how to do those things and that’s perfectly fine,” she said. "On the other hand, if you want to learn how to make movies, start a blog, do job applications online, we can also help you with that as well.”

In many cases, you can find out more about literacy programs in your area by calling your local library. Or contact Literacy CNY or Literacy Rochester in those areas.