CTN IS CONNECTING SENIORS IN CENTRAL TEXAS
Did you know that only 55.3 percent of Texans age 65 and older have broadband at home? One reason for this is the lack of affordable broadband options, but lack of devices and digital skills are also factors. This means that over a million older adults in Texas can’t video chat with family, participate in telehealth, order medications, and groceries, or apply online for benefits.
Four years ago, CTN expanded its reach to central Texas with the continuing mission to establish digital inclusion hubs wherever we find meaningful partnerships. Through participation in the Social Inclusion Task Force in Austin, CTN developed partnerships with a few agencies that were interested in using our curriculum and replicating our Home Connect model.
Today after planning and piloting, training and tweaking, we are thrilled to introduce our new program, Senior Connect — a collaboration between Senior Access, AGE of Central Texas, and CTN. Replicating nearly all aspects of the Home Connect program, Senior Connect has secured enough funding to provide 150 older adults in central Texas with home internet, a 10-inch Android tablet, and up to 17 hours of remote digital literacy training.
Given the vastness of the Texas digital divide, helping 150 seniors is only scratching the surface of a massive need. Now more than ever, digital skills and internet access are essential to fully participate in society and reap the benefits of the information age. If you currently work with older adults and are interested in helping them get home internet, a tablet, and remote training, email inquiries@
HOME CONNECT REACHING RUSSIAN-SPEAKING LEARNERS
As Community Tech Network strives to create a more digitally inclusive world for all, we recognize the importance of offering curriculum and courses in multiple languages to reflect the diverse communities of San Francisco. When our Home Connect program launched over a year ago, it initially supported four languages: English, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, and Cantonese. Now supporting Tagalog and Russian, Home Connect continues to provide older adults with digital skills training from the safety and convenience of their homes.
Recently, bilingual digital literacy program manager Josie Boyle put her Russian language skills to use with a new cohort of Home Connect learners at San Francisco’s Eastern Parks Apartments. The majority of these Russian-speaking learners immigrated to the U.S. around 30 years ago — hailing from Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Odessa, Ukraine. Before joining the Home Connect program, they had little experience using technology. Most of them were new to any form of touch-screen technology and have never used a smartphone. Those who had access to the internet had been limited to using YouTube to watch programs and news in Russian.
Today, the learners are using their tablets in all sorts of ways — from video chatting with family to emailing photos to friends around the world. As we wrap up initial Home Connect lessons, these beginner learners will need continued support in navigating the internet. We are always looking for more Russian-speaking volunteers to ensure the success of these eager and dedicated older adults. Check out our volunteer page to get started!
COMMUNITY TECH NETWORK SPOTLIGHT
LEARNER: PATRICIA BLAINE
“You got everything at your fingertips, and now all you gotta do is tap it and learn,” reflects Senior Connect learner Patricia Blaine. “There’s still a big world out there. And we can bring it to ourselves.” Initially hesitant about using technology, the Texas-based senior felt encouraged by the slow pace and full support of the Senior Connect program. Check out how she is embracing her tablet as a tool for creativity and connection
VOLUNTEER: DEREK SLATER
How might a tech-savvy Google executive teach digital skills to total beginners? For volunteer digital coach Derek Slater, it starts with getting out of his comfort zone. “Being a leader at this company and sort of having this bird’s eye view, it’s not easy to see the little things,” Derek reflects. “It’s a good sort of discomfort to take a step back and see things through their [the learners’] eyes … see how confusing technology can be sometimes,” he says. Follow along with Derek’s volunteer journey.
PARTNER: CITY OF OAKLAND
In a new partnership with the City of Oakland, CTN will offer beyond-the-basics courses to older adult learners. This skilled cohort has already learned how to navigate a tablet and use the basic tools of the internet. Read how CTN’s courses are advancing and expanding digital skill sets.