The digital divide has narrowed as more Blacks and Latinos nationwide use the Internet, according to The New York Times and a recent Pew survey.

The survey, conducted in February, found that 61 percent of African Americans use the Internet, along with 80 percent of “English-speaking Hispanic Americans.” The rates represent a huge increase from only 23 percent of African Americans and 40 percent of English-speaking Hispanic-Americans who said they used the Internet in 1998.

But, according to The New York Times, there still may be a gap in how each ethnic group uses the Internet. The study found that 74 percent of Whites go online. And non-White newcomers to the Internet use less-advanced hardware and their access tends to be at slower speeds, Vickie Rideout, Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation vice president, told The New York Times.

“The type and meaningful quality of access is, in some ways, a more challenging divide that remains,” said Rideout, whose organization studies who accesses the Internet and how.

The driving forces in back of the increased Black and Hispanic Internet use are the falling prices of laptops, more computers in public schools and libraries and the newest generation of cell phones and handheld devices that connect to the Internet, according to the Times.

Byte Back, a non-profit Washington, D.C organization that instructs for free, low-income residents in Washington, D.C. who want to obtain their computer certification; graduated 80 students in their IT/Computer Certification program April 1, their largest graduating class ever.

Kelley Ellsworth, the program’s executive director, said that at the end of the program, each student receives a “refurbished computer” and free Internet service. Among participants in the program, the majority are low-income African American women who were unemployed, she said.