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Is back to school
just for kids? Apparently not.
Hair Technology Group in Johns Creek, Georgia (northeast of Atlanta), is
educating senior citizens to use new technologies like tablet computers and
Facebook so they can keep in touch.
Hair Technology Group is featured on TechSoup’s new Local Impact Map. The nonprofit provides laptops, tablet computers, training, and other
technology resources to elderly people.
They take donations of gently used IT
equipment and distribute them to seniors who want to keep connected with family
and friends. They also use TechSoup’s donation program to obtain the
software they need to create outreach and curriculum materials.
Technology Group is a strong advocate for tablet computers like iPads, Kindles,
and other e-readers because touch screens are a much more intuitive interface
for computer beginners, whether they’re two or 92.
Touch screens are also much
easier to use if people have different types of disabilities, cognitive or
physical. Last but not least, touch screen devices are so light (one to one and a half pounds)
that they are very manageable for seniors to carry with them.
easily the fastest-growing category of portable computers. Tablet sales are
expected to overtake
those of all other personal computers by 2014, so they are the coming thing.
began as a project of Jane Ratliff, inspired by her own 86-year-old mother’s
quick and easy grasp of using an iPad purchased by Ratliff and her brother.
mother had never turned on a computer in her life," Ratliff recalls. But her
mother had seen the benefits of computerized communication by watching her
"I realized that she would need lessons to be successful and enjoy her
gift, so I declared that my birthday gift to her." And three months of weekly
lessons later, Ratliff’s mom was proficient on her iPad.
The program now
conducts classes in multiple senior centers in central Georgia, replicating that
One of the things I
like best about Blue Hair Technology Group’s website is their senior technology news blog. It
features senior-friendly technology that I had never heard about like the HP Presto
Printing Mailbox, which receives email without a computer.
allows approved people to send emails (with photos) and it will print
automatically. The owner of the device doesn’t need a computer at
Another recent post was about "nana technology," which involves
emerging technologies such as robotic nurses and online medicine cabinets.
The coolest thing for me, however, was a virtual tour of dementia. This blog is an astute collection of digital inclusion technologies for seniors.
you use any of TechSoup’s resources and want to have your story on the Local
Impact Map, just email community [at] techsoup [dot] org with
"Community Story" in the subject line.
No need to say much in
the message — just a couple lines of what you do and a web link if you have
We’re looking for great stories like this one about nonprofits and libraries
doing good work with technology.
Image: Senior at the "Benefits of Facebook" training at Alta Johns Creek Senior Center (Blue
Hair Technology Group)