Photo: Staff member Kate Sheludziayeva helps Victor with a tech issue.
CTN staff members have experienced another unanticipated, yet not entirely unexpected, impact from the COVID-19 environment. CTN’s past digital learners needing technical assistance have traditionally turned to our staff or volunteers at our training partner locations such as senior centers and housing developments. Because of pandemic-related closings, these same individuals can no longer access help this way and are calling the CTN office for assistance.
In response, CTN staff members have set up a tracking system to ensure a timely response to all callers. As you can imagine, the scope of the questions is extremely broad. Questions have included assistance with video conferencing apps like Zoom and WeChat, locating online computer classes, technical questions specific to using mobile phones and various devices, email guidance, volume controls, passwords, and internet access. Others want to shop and order online via Amazon or other retailers, set up online banking, or obtain financial literacy training. And the list goes on.
Based on these experiences, we are creating a hotline for the purpose of providing support to anyone with a technical question. Thanks to the diversity of our staff and volunteers, we have the capacity to handle inquiries in English, Spanish, Russian, Cantonese, and Mandarin. We are in the process of identifying and testing a tool, and once a phone number is established, we will promote the hotline availability through the Department of Disability & Aging Services (DAS), our SF Connected partners, and other community training locations. Details are still being addressed, and additional updates will be provided as soon as possible.
This project joins Home Connect as a new offering designed to provide digital literacy training and ongoing technical support to homebound older adults. Once COVID-19 stay-safe-at-home restrictions are eased, a portion of the older adult learners will remain homebound due to health or mobility-related restrictions, and these new initiatives will allow CTN to continue to help.