Graduation Date

Spring 2021

Document Type



Master of Arts degree with a major in Sociology

Committee Chair Name

Dr. Joshua Meisel

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Dr. Mary Virnoche

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Subject Categories



This research is based on summer 2020 online survey data from a stratified random sample of 573 clients and care providers of a rural Northern California government social services agency. The goal was to study information technology access in Humboldt County, California, and the range of digital preparedness of clients of a local government agency: Humboldt County In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS). IHSS serves several groups of rural residents with low-income, foremost of which are older adults and people with disabilities. In 2020, in compliance with federal requirements, IHSS discontinued systems for paper-based client/provider confirmation of services, moving to digital technology-based service record keeping. Findings were that adults with disabilities, with lower-income and/or who live in a rural location have lower access to technology, were lower technology users, have less confidence with technology, need more help with technology, and are more unready for technological change. Native Americans, non-binary folx, and those with lower education were also more likely to have less access or be lower users. Changes needed for personal use following the COVID-19 pandemic and shelter-in-place orders, as well as in anticipation of IHSS service changes, included new computers and phones, and upgraded internet and phone services. The above groups were those who needed these changes the most. Overall, these people are considered digitally unprepared and lag behind the rest of the digital world. This research provides empirical evidence for IHSS and Humboldt County adoption and implementation of National Digital Inclusion Alliance guidelines for client and provider, training, technical assistance, and material assistance.

Citation Style

American Sociology Association 6th edition


Thesis/Project Location