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Digital literacy the key to connection

Digital literacy for seniors

If you think COVID restrictions have been hard, spare a thought for seniors in the community who might have difficulty accessing a cornerstone of connection during isolation – digital technology.

Bridges, a not-for-profit charity that has been running continuously for 45 years, empowers people to remain independent, fostering socialisation and mobility through transport solutions for disadvantaged seniors and those with a disability and a pet companion program.

In late 2020, Bridges added a digital literacy program designed for older people and open to all seniors living in Knox, to help connect them to services and each other. This became particularly important during lockdown to ensure that no-one was left behind when face-to-face meetings and support programs went online.

“Our digital literacy program was established at the onset of COVID when we closed our centre-based support programs and opened our virtual social support program,” says Digital Literacy Champion Gayle Osmond. “Some of our clients had access to technology but were not confident using it.”

The Digital Literacy project has been supported by a grant from the Knox City Council COVID-19 Supporting Local Services Fund, which allowed Bridges to employ a specialist staff member dedicated to the digital inclusion program. Bridges volunteers – many of them seniors themselves – have access to the program too.

“The program eliminates barriers to support digital inclusion for our senior members,” says Gayle. “It includes iPads that can be hired throughout the program for members to try before they decide to invest in one of their own.”

“Feedback from participants shows they thoroughly enjoy the learning and pick up quickly on things they want to know – for example, how to transfer photos from their phone to their computer.  Our learners say they have more confidence in their skills after the training.”

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