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Bridging the Digital Divide: Innovation In The Age of Covid

A woman wearing a face mask is standing at a table.
A woman wearing a face mask is standing at a table.

Bridging the Digital Divide: Innovation In The Age of Covid

To say that COVID changed the way TheCIL does business would be an understatement of enormous proportions.

As of March, gone were in-person Accelerate events. Gone were one-on-one assistive technology consultations. Our employees grabbed a laptop and headed home to work. A new age of digital-centric services began at TheCIL.

And though it was tough at first, TheCIL innovated and found a way to provide the community with the services it needed.

First, we held several PPE and hand sanitizer giveaways. We also filled our website with COVID-related resources that our consumers could check out to find help; info on emergency funds, housing, and personal housing attendants can still be found at

thecil.org.

Then, it was time to find a way to provide consumers with the services they rely on safely. We’ve invested heavily in producing the same panels and workshops on things like employment, the ADA, and transit in digital form. One recent success was a

the webinar titled “Shifting Gears: How Bay Area Public Transit Adapts to COVID-19 with Accessibility in Mind”.

We’ve also reimagined what our office space in Berkeley at the Ed Roberts Campus could be. We’ve learned that working remotely simply makes sense for us; it cuts costs, makes it easier to reach consumers, and leads to the same high productivity from our employees.

With this in mind, TheCIL began the process of converting our Ed Roberts Campus office into a community space where anyone with a disability in Alameda County could come to find resources, hold events, or meet with friends and family in a safe, empowering, and inclusive space.

We have even more exciting plans for 2021. We recently received a large grant from the San

Francisco Foundation to distribute hundreds of tablets to individuals with disabilities in our community isolated from jobs, friends, and family by a lack of access to technology. And upcoming is even more panels, new online curricula for young people, and PPE giveaways.

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