Maine’s multifaceted accessibility efforts


  • Governance
  • Digital Equity
  • NTIA


  • Maine
  • United States

Driving the news:

Maine recently made history when the Maine Connectivity Authority’s Digital Equity Plan became the first approved plan in the country by the National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA). Having completed this first step, Maine could now be eligible to receive between $12-14 million. This would come from the $800 million earmarked for Digital Equity Act funding that the NTIA will distribute across the 50 states, DC, Puerto Rico, and territories. The NTIA’s main focus is on closing the digital equity divide. 

As of April 2024, 34 additional states and DC have had their plans accepted. While many states are rightfully focused on broadband accessibility, what is further laudable is that a cornerstone of Maine’s plan is equitable digital access, specifically for persons with disabilities. Hopefully other states will follow Maine’s lead in making digital access for people with disabilities a core component of their broader strategies. 

Maine’s strategies include vision enhancement training by The Iris Network, the loaning of assistive devices through MaineCITE, technological interventions by Spurwink Alltech, and the provision of iPads by the Maine Developmental Disabilities Council, all directed towards bolstering digital inclusion and competencies amid the challenges posed by the COVID-19 outbreak.

In addition to Maine’s Digital Equity Plan, Maine is actioning accessibility in several other ways:

Accessibility initiatives in job training and employment:

  • The Maine Digital Inclusion Initiative (MDII) works to expand digital literacy services to populations traditionally under-served, as well as provide employment-related education and training across the state of Maine.
  • A crucial part of this initiative is the AmeriCorps Digital Inclusion Initiative (ADII). The MDII will offer training to develop a more highly skilled and fully trained workforce while also improving job-seeking skills for the under-employed and unemployed. The ADII will also offer digital training to senior citizens to “Age in Place.”

Collaboration for digital accessibility:

  • The University of Maine is actively contributing to digital accessibility efforts for vision-impaired students as part of the broader digital equity initiatives in the state.
  • In late 2022, the Maine Connectivity Authority collaborated with the University of Maine Center on Aging to research and create the first Digital Equity Asset Inventory for Maine. This comprehensive research effort aimed to identify digital equity and inclusion resources using methods such as reviewing online resources, conducting key interviews with major stakeholders in digital equity, and surveying a wide range of organizations providing digital equity and inclusion resources, including adult education programs, libraries, and housing authorities​​.

Looking forward:

Maine’s multifaceted approach, including the Maine Digital Inclusion Initiative and collaborations for digital accessibility, underscores its commitment to ensuring that digital literacy and access permeate all demographics, setting a benchmark for other states to emulate. 

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