Addressing the Digital Divide Among Older Adults: Mass. Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Host Organization: The Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (MABVI)

Program: Access Technology Training Program

Description: The Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired launched the Access Technology Training program in 2017 to provide technology instruction for people who are blind or visually impaired. This training can open access to printed and digital information, social connection and communication, transportation, healthcare information, and more. Through individual lessons participants learn to use technology to meet their own goals and needs. Following an assessment of technology background, vision status, and goals, participants are matched with a trainer. The trainer and participant then meet regularly, in person or remotely based on trainer and trainee preferences, to learn and practice using technology. Regular meetings give the participant the opportunity to practice a new skill independently, come to the next lesson with questions, and continue learning at their own pace.

Resource Requirements: Clients bring their own technology, though program staff may make recommendations if they are looking for something new. When possible, the program provides device demonstrations and trials so that clients can gain some experience with a device before committing to a purchase.

Advice to Other Programs: “Be patient! Learning to use technology can be overwhelming. Break it down into manageable pieces, be prepared to review material from previous lessons, and remember that practice makes perfect.”

Quotes from Program Participants:

  • “With technology, I am not afraid to be alone because I have access to the outside world.”
  • “Technology training groups during the pandemic helped with battling the effects of isolation.”

Contact Information: Rachel Castle, Access Technology Coordinator, Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, rcastle@mabcommunity.org