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Looking for ways to make the iPad more accessible for older adults? Next time you’re at the store, pick up some corrugated plastic, knit gloves, stickers and industrial twist ties.During a recent edition of the National Public Radio’s Science Friday program.
Therese Willkomm suggested 5 innovative uses for these and other materials. Willkomm is director of New Hampshire's State Assistive Technology Program, which is housed in the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire. She is also the author of Assistive Technology Solutions in Minutes. Here’s what she suggests:
Participating in training programs and social groups with other technology users can also help make technology more accessible to older adults, says Tom Kamber, executive director of Older Adults Technology Service (OATS). The nonprofit organization promotes computer use among older adults in New York City. “When people come in for iPad training, many of them are starting with the barrier of being an older individual who may not really have connections with their own friends and peers that are using these devices,” says Kamber. “So they haven't been able to observe people succeeding with them. They haven't been able to see what people are getting out of the use of these new tools.”Some people will need assistive supports to help them use an iPad, says Kamber. But most people just need some basic training in how to use the device. Technology experts aren’t actually the best people to offer that training, he warns. “You don’t need someone with a computer science degree,” he says. “What you really want is somebody who enjoys the experience of talking and being patient with an older person on their learning track and their learning pace, and can relate it to the things that older people need. This notion of relevance is so powerful and so important for older learners, many of whom feel really alienated by the technology and the way that we market it and design it.”