What is a necessity? To get technical, we could look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:
When asked about exactly this, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly said that he saw necessities as those things firmly rooted in the bottom of the hierarchy – food, water and shelter. In this article he says that people “can and do” live without the internet.
That’s true. Millions of people in the world live like that. And the vast majority of people could complete the whole of Maslow’s hierarchy without internet access. What’s different for disabled people, then?
Consider the housebound person. How do they interact with the world? Stay in touch with family? Work? All of these things can be achieved easily through access to fast, cheap internet at home.
Isolation is a major issue for disabled people, as accessing the “outside world” can present a variety of challenges. The internet is no replacement for direct human interaction, but it’s a start.
Which level of the hierarchy of these? The second level! Safety and security! So for the disabled, the internet can deliver needs just one level above the basics of food, water and shelter.
For me, the internet is my window of the world. It keeps me connect, informed, stimulated mentally. It allows me to interact on a variety of levels, from family and friends, to advocacy and involvement with the MS Society. I can have weeks without leaving the house, but I still feel part of the world. I strongly support access to the internet as a necessity for people like me.