Voqal believes there are many approaches to achieving a socially equitable world. One of the ways we work towards this goal is by increasing digital access and inclusion. Voqal project, Mobile Citizen provides low-cost mobile internet with unlimited data plans exclusively to nonprofit organizations, educational entities, libraries, and social welfare agencies. It recognizes that making affordable internet access more available is a necessary part of achieving true social equity. This month we highlight another one of the organizations Mobile Citizen works with to achieve its mission, the Center for Hearing and Speech.
An excerpt from a recent Mobile Citizen case study featuring this valuable partnership is below:
Founded in 1920 to serve the social and financial needs of people with hearing loss, the Center for Hearing and Speech has helped over one million St. Louis, Missouri area residents communicate and connect with their communities. Center for Hearing and SpeachStaff at this full-service audiology clinic have fitted thousands of patients with hearing aids over the years, but that isn’t the only technology they use to accomplish their goals.
In 2020, the Center began providing patients with mobile Wi-Fi hotspots and tablets to use at home so they could stay connected to health services, friends, and family members throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Some of our older adult patients found themselves very cut off during the pandemic,” explained Sharon Elliott, a social worker at the Center. “Internet became vital for connecting with family, church groups, telehealth providers and more, but many of our patients either couldn’t access internet from home or couldn’t afford it.”
She and her colleagues considered internet access a natural extension of the Center’s mission to empower communication for people with hearing loss, so they wrote grants to make it happen. Then they stretched those grant dollars as far as they possibly could by purchasing hotspot devices and high-speed internet service from Mobile Citizen.
“When we ask if they’re interested in getting online, almost everyone says yes,” Elliott explained. “They use the Mobile Citizen Wi-Fi hotspots to attend Zoom church services, schedule doctor visits, and Covid-19 vaccinations, play online bingo, join the Center’s weekly virtual Circle of Friends meetings, and generally keep isolation and loneliness at bay.”