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Digital Inclusion Week and the power of imagination

“Our imagination,” concluded Burton, “is a trigger for manifestation.”

In a recent interview, Levar Burton spoke about the power of imagination. “There was some kid who grew up watching Star Trek like I did, and that kid saw all those scenes of Kirk reaching to his hip and pulling out his communicator. That kid became a scientist, maybe an engineer, and designed a product that is more prevalent on the planet than the toaster.”

I’ve been thinking about this quote a lot as Digital Inclusion Week approaches. Today is the first day of Digital Inclusion Week, an annual week of awareness, recognition, and celebration of digital equity and inclusion in our communities. I invite you to join me in imagining a world in which digital equity is more than an aspiration, it is a reality achieved through inclusion. Over the next few days, the Seattle Information Department will be sharing different ways the City of Seattle is working in the digital equity field.

If you have heard anything about digital equity, you may have heard the heartbreaking stories of students forced to drive to a parking lot for Wi-Fi and older adults falling prey to online scams. These stories are relevant, and there are plenty of problems like these that still need to be addressed. The City of Seattle has been engaged in digital equity work since 1996 and we’ve focused on addressing these challenges in the community. We have been at the forefront of what has now become a global movement to ensure that everyone has the information technology capacity needed for civic and cultural participation, employment, lifelong learning, and access to essential services. 

We support programs that provide affordable, sufficient, and reliable internet; digital skills and tech support; access to connected devices; and accessible applications and services. I anticipate this work will continue to occupy a lot of our time and I’m excited about that. I’m also excited to imagine how technology will contribute to solutions.

In some ways, inclusive technology is already here. Today a single mother can start her own home-based business with nothing but a cell phone. Attaining technical skills that used to require formal training can be done for free on YouTube. And long-distance loved ones are no longer separated by the cost of a plane ticket or long-distance charges. Of course, we take these things for granted, but we can only imagine what the next innovation will bring.

As technological change accelerates, achieving inclusion requires us to change the way we design and build as well. Human-centered design thinking and universal design principles are inspiring companies like Microsoft to tackle the “disability divide.” Government also has a role to play in promoting, and at times requiring, design solutions that work for everyone.

Over at, there are actions and events listed from across the country that highlight the amazing work that is moving us closer to an inclusive future that we can only imagine. I invite you to join me in celebrating Digital Inclusion Week. Let’s work together to connect Seattle communities. This task at first will seem impossible. Then it will be difficult. Then it will be done.

The City of Seattle is participating in Digital Inclusion Week, an annual week of awareness, recognition, and celebration to promote digital equity and awareness in communities. This week, we’ll feature a series of blog posts about the work the City of Seattle does for digital equity. This is the first blog post in our series of Digital Equity work in the City of Seattle. Stay tuned for more blog posts this week. Be sure to follow Seattle IT on social media this week for more information about the work we do for digital equity.

Above article by Jon Morrison Winters, Digital Equity Program and Broadband Manager for the City of Seattle

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