By Susan Nash

Census 2020 is underway and for the first time ever, the Census is online. That’s good news for technology users but not for people without the computer access or digital literacy skills to go online without help. COVID-19 has derailed plans to help older adults and others by providing computer access and assistance at libraries, community centers, grocery stores and other gathering spots. You can help make sure that everyone living in the United States gets counted by filling out the Census yourself and by reaching out to older adults who may need help understanding the options for responding.

Internet users can complete the 9-question Census survey online by going to my2020census.gov from a computer or mobile device. The online survey is available in 13 languages, including English, Spanish and Vietnamese.

But a significant number of people, particularly some older adults, still lack broadband access and/or the digital literacy skills necessary to fill out the Census form without help. According to a 2017 Pew Research Center survey, one-third of adults ages 65 and older say they never use the Internet, and roughly half (49%) say they do not have home broadband services. Among those 80 and older, only 44 percent reported using the Internet, only 28 percent subscribe to home broadband services, and only 17 percent own smartphones.

Those who cannot, or prefer not to, complete the survey online can participate in the Census via telephone by calling one of the toll-free numbers listed below.

Unlike past years, paper census forms will not be available at post offices or libraries. Some paper forms will be mailed to areas where people may not be able to respond online, and some forms will be sent as follow-up to those who don’t respond, but the surest way to get counted is to do it now.

Census results will help direct over $675 billion in federal funding annually for health clinics, schools, roads, emergency preparedness, public safety and other services. The 2020 Census results will also be used to determine the number of seats each state has in Congress, as well as political representation at all levels of government.

That’s why it’s so important that everyone be counted.

Note that the 2020 Census does not include questions about citizenship or immigration status. The U.S. Census Bureau is bound by law to keep the answers strictly confidential.

For assistance completing the census questionnaire online, click here to view a video guide. For more information about the 2020 Census, visit 2020census.gov.

Language Line Toll-Free Number to Complete Census
English 844-330-2020
Spanish 844-468-2020
Chinese (Mandarin) 844-391-2020
Chinese (Cantonese) 844-398-2020
Vietnamese 844-461-2020
Korean 844-392-2020
Russian 844-417-2020
Arabic 844-416-2020
Tagalog 844-478-2020
Polish 844-479-2020
French 844-494-2020
Haitian Creole 844-477-2020
Portuguese 844-474-2020
Japanese 844-460-2020
English (Puerto Rico residents) 844-418-2020
Spanish (Puerto Rico residents) 844-426-2020
Telephone Display Device (TDD) 844-467-2020

 Susan Nash is a visiting scholar at the Stanford Center on Longevity.