Microsoft, Miami Offer Seniors Free Computer Training, Customized PCs
Microsoft Corp. and the City of Miami — both leaders in digital inclusion — today announced eSeniors, a public-private partnership that will provide free computer training and the opportunity to purchase customized technology packages to Miami seniors at learning hubs located in neighborhood senior centers throughout the city.
“eSeniors aims to provide Miami seniors with technology tools and training that can empower them to improve their quality of life, simplify many everyday tasks, access community and government services more easily, and participate fully in our increasingly digital society,” said Miami Mayor Manny Diaz.
The eSeniors program is part of ELEVATE Miami, a broad initiative designed to enable all Miami residents to participate and compete in the digital economy. For eSeniors, the City of Miami is providing free training and computer access at senior centers, using recycled computers equipped with the Windows XP operating system, the Microsoft Office system and Microsoft Encarta. In June 2007, Mayor Diaz received the prestigious City Livability Award from the U.S. Conference of Mayors in recognition of ELEVATE Miami’s comprehensive and innovative approach to the reduction of poverty, which includes digital inclusion as one of its four cornerstones.
“As personal computers and the Internet become increasingly important in our society, many seniors are being left out, not because of too little interest but because of too little access and too few opportunities to learn the necessary skills,” said Rob Sinclair, director of the Accessibility Business Unit at Microsoft. “Miami is providing a model for other cities to follow by making it easy for seniors to get the tools and training they need to gain full membership in today’s digital lifestyle.”
New Senior PC Technology Packages Available Online
As part of the eSeniors initiative, Microsoft is releasing several technology packages tailored to the needs and interests of seniors. The new technology packages are available to seniors who want to purchase a computer of their own, or to adult children who may want to buy a computer for their parents.
People can choose either a desktop or notebook HP computer running Windows Vista and Microsoft productivity software geared toward seniors. In addition, the senior PC packages come with a color printer and software applications designed to help seniors manage their household tasks, keep track of their prescriptions, and sharpen memory with games. Seniors can also choose a larger keyboard or trackball mouse for easier typing and mouse pointing. One package, available only in a desktop model, includes the Spanish-language version of Windows Vista.
All the technology packages can be purchased online at http://www.microsoft.com/enable/aging/seniorpc.aspx. To make the technology packages more affordable, any Miami senior who completes the city’s training program will receive a voucher to help offset the cost of purchasing a computer for his or her home.
Microsoft and City of Miami Partnership Empowers Seniors
For Microsoft and Miami, the new eSeniors program is an extension of longstanding commitments to digital inclusion and service to seniors, and their shared belief that technology can serve as an equalizer for people of all ages, removing workplace barriers and increasing employment opportunities while reducing social isolation.
“Gaining new technology skills and access to accessible technology will give many seniors a wider range of social and economic opportunities, enabling them to change careers, work part-time, stay employed longer, and expand their ability to contribute to their communities through volunteering,” said Lori Parham, Florida state director for AARP. “By bringing seniors into the digital age, Microsoft and Miami are empowering them with more choices about how they live their lives.”
In addition to being part of ELEVATE Miami, eSeniors is an extension of the successful eParks program that began in 2004 and now offers technology training and computer access to children, their parents and other Miami residents at 27 city parks. To reach seniors more effectively, the city decided to set up similar learning hubs in senior centers, starting with two centers to establish the model, and expanding to 10 senior centers by early 2008.
“Mayor Diaz and the Miami city commissioners have shown tremendous vision in reaching beyond traditional strategies to find creative ways to help the people of Miami participate in the digital age,” Sinclair said. “Microsoft is proud to partner with the City of Miami on providing seniors with new opportunities, and we look forward to working on similar initiatives with other U.S. cities.”
City of Miami
Elevate Miami is a program that prepares all residents of Miami for a leadership position in the global economy, creating unparalleled areas of opportunity by establishing public and private partnerships which facilitate access to affordable technology, including mobile and low-cost internet access, and therefore enhancing the quality of life for all Miamians. ELEVATE MIAMI seeks to reach this goal through a multi-faceted approach that incorporates the following: eParks — equips 27 City of Miami parks with 264 computers and offers open lab hours available to all residents; eSenior Centers — equips senior centers with computers and offers computer literacy training to the elderly (currently available in 2 senior centers with 142 seniors attending training); Education Compact — creates a Curriculum for all sixth graders which integrates technology and life experiences. If students meet the expectations of the program, they will earn a computer.
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