5 posts categorized "Technology"

December 20, 2016

Digital Activism Brings Elders into the Fold

This post originally appeared on Diverse Elders Coalition blog on December 13, 2016. Read the original post here.

By Jenna McDavid

Earlier this week, I attended a virtual town hall hosted by ColorOfChange.org, which brought together hundreds of people from around the world to learn and share the many ways in which communities of color will be pushing back against unfavorable changes in the political and social climate of this country. I was really inspired by the collective power of so many activists, advocates, allies, and community members getting together – without having to leave their houses! – to strategize and support one another. I also noticed that during the town hall, as participants were typing and chatting with each other, that a number of people identified themselves as Baby Boomers or Elders who wanted to get more involved in the fights to protect their communities. One person note that she is homebound and unable to volunteer outside of her house or participate in protests, but still wanted to take part in the movements that are shaping our future.

The Diverse Elders Coalition launched our civic engagement campaign earlier this year with that very goal in mind: getting elders of all ages, identities, classes, abilities, and locations involved with the programs and processes that impact their lives. We collected nearly 5,000 comments from individuals in all 50 states about the unique and unmet needs of American Indian/Alaska Native elders, Asian American, Pacific Islander American and Native Hawaiian elders, Black and African American elders, Hispanic elders, and LGBTQ elders. Those comments were submitted to the Administration for Community Living (ACL) along with a statement from our coalition, urging the ACL to incorporate our findings from these comments into their planning guidance for aging programs.

This campaign has been so inspiring to me, not only because of the incredible impact of our communities working together, but also because of how many people we were able to engage. Our members submitted comments both in-person and via the Internet; materials were distributed and comments were collected in six different languages, including English, Spanish, Korean, Mandarin, Vietnamese, and Hmong. And it wasn’t just elders who shared their stories with us: children, grandchildren, caregivers, and community activists also told us about the needs of the older adults in their lives. When we pool our resources and collaborate with each other, anything is possible.

Which brings me back to this virtual town hall that I had joined. It’s not always easy for people to get out of their homes and pound the pavement, particularly older adults in our communities, who may live alone, have difficulty accessing transportation, and/or struggle with illness or disability. But there are so many opportunities for us to connect through the internet. We are seeing proposals from members of Congress that will negatively impact our communities: large-scale deportation of immigrants, a Muslim registry, repeal of the Affordable Care Act, cuts to Medicare and Social Security. Our coalition will continue to push back against policies that hurt elders of color, American Indian/Alaska Native elders, and LGBT elders, and we will work to find innovative ways – including through phone- and internet-based advocacy – to get elders involved in these fights as well. After all, more older adults than ever are using the internet and social media to stay connected. Why not stay connected to community organizing and political advocacy efforts, too?

Some of our member organizations have already begun to do this. For example, the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) is hosting a series of monthly community calls, which bring together people from anywhere in the country to talk about the issues that impact Southeast Asian Americans. Anyone can join; all you need is internet access and a phone. And as we head into 2017, the Diverse Elders Coalition will want to connect our partners and community members with their Congressional representatives as well as with each other to ensure that we have as many voices as possible speaking up for the needs of diverse older adults.

For more information, contact the Diverse Elders Coalition here.

January 29, 2014

NYC LGBT seniors compete in virtual bowling tournaments with Microsoft Xbox

This blog post by Daniel Hubbell, was originally featured on the Microsoft Accessibility Blog. Read the original post here.

Barbara Police, 64, loved bowling since she was a kid. After she lost her sight 14 years ago, she was able to continue playing at a specially constructed bowling alley for people with visual impairments.  But several years ago, a shoulder injury made it too painful for her to lift and throw a bowling ball. Now, thanks to the new Exergamers NYC program for seniors, Barbara is back in the game. Along with her partner of 38 years, Pat Sloane, she bowls every week at The SAGE Center in Chelsea.

Exergaming combines technology with exercise, allowing seniors to improve their physical, mental and social well-being by participating in friendly competition and interactive gaming.  The project is made possible by a public-private partnership between Microsoft, NYC Department for the Aging (DFTA), and NYC Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT). Exergaming has taken root in many of DFTA’s Innovative Senior Centers, which operates throughout all the boroughs of New York City. 

A few months ago, the SAGE center was given Microsoft Kinect for Xbox, which relies on motion sensors—no heavy lifting involved. "Virtual bowling is terrific for me," Barbara explains, "because there's no weight! I just have to swing and hope for the best." As a person who is blind, she says virtual bowling opens up a new world to her. She's at less of a disadvantage with video games than physical games, since she's able to recreate the two-dimensional backdrop using her imagination—and the help of Pat, 70, who describes to her what's on the screen. It allows me think in my mind what it must look like," Barbara explains. "My mind is virtual!" She lights up when she talks about the game, and says she'd love to learn to play other kinds of games using the Xbox—like baseball.

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November 1, 2013

Aging Gracefully with a Little Help from Technology, Senior Centers and Exergamers NYC

This blog post was written by Bonnie Kearney, director of Trustworthy Computing Communications for Accessibility and Aging at Microsoft.  Bonnie has been with Microsoft for more than 18 years and is especially passionate about building awareness for technology that improves the lives of people of all ages and abilities. The post was originally featured on Microsoft's Accessibility Blog here.

When was the last time you felt truly inspired at work? For me it was yesterday, as I watched seniors laugh and play together in the heart of New York City.

I realized the future of aging is not in a rocking chair. It is in the invigorating dance moves of Zumba, the thrill of competition in a boxing ring or a bowling lane, and exercise in a virtual environment, with the help of technology that paves the way for new connections and friendships.

 

Exergamer Teams
Above: Left to Right are the teams from SAGE Center, Selfhelp Senior Center and VISIONS Senior Center


In a new public-private partnership, Microsoft teamed up with New York City’s Department for the Aging (DFTA) andDepartment of Information Technology & Telecommunications (DoITT) to develop Exergamers NYC. This program uses Kinect for Xbox in unexpected ways to promote more active and social lifestyles for New York City seniors. Participants bowl on virtual lanes, compete in boxing matches, swing for the fences in baseball games, and enjoy Zumba dance competitions. Senior centers from all five boroughs can compete against one another on Xbox and then discuss and celebrate their achievements together over Skype. The partnership builds upon the success of a 2010 collaboration between Microsoft and New York City that created the region’s first Virtual Senior Center

 

To witness this first hand, I traveled to New York City for the inaugural Senior Center Kinect for Xbox Bowling Competition between players from Manhattan’s SAGE Center and Queens’ Selfhelp Benjamin Rosenthal Prince Street Senior Center. While the competition was fierce, the camaraderie was genuine, with players in the virtual games cheering, teasing, and clapping.  Across town, seniors at the city’s first center for blind and visually-impaired seniors, VISIONS Selis Manor Senior Center, also enjoyed their own Xbox bowling competition. 

VISIONS serves thousands of people from all five boroughs with a wide range of vision impairments, ranging from those with some vision loss to those who are completely blind. According to center director Nancy Miller, maintaining health and physical fitness can be particularly challenging for low-vision seniors because health conditions that cause vision loss may cause other health complications. But virtual sports, such as Kinect’s bowling and Zumba, offer cardiovascular benefits without risks associated with other forms of exercise; there are no sharp objects, heavy weights to lift, or complex fitness machines to operate. And unlike climbing stairs or walking on a treadmill, exergaming is a social activity. Group activities also can help seniors regain a sense of belonging and reduce social isolation. Seniors use a yoga mat to orient themselves  spatially and listens to audio cues to know when they have the virtual bowling ball in hand using Xbox.

As I connected with seniors before and after the day’s virtual matches, I was happy to be part of it all. I particularly enjoyed hearing seniors tell stories about new-found friendships, health benefits and the thrill of competition. The Exergamers NYC collaboration between DFTA, DoITT and Microsoft has been impactful in the community. Teamwork, partnership and collaboration are all buzzwords we read about in management books and hear in staff meetings. But, this program puts these words into action and transforms lives. I have witnessed it first hand, and it’s inspiring.  

May 9, 2013

SAGE Is a Communicator Award Winner!

CommSilver1SAGE is proud to announce that we have received a 2013 Communicator Award from The International Academy of Visual Arts (IAVA) for our website!

The SAGE website (sageusa.org) relaunched with a new, streamlined design in October 2012, offering visitors the latest information and resources on LGBT aging issues. The site was honored with a Silver Communicator Award (also known as an Award of Distinction) in the category of Websites - Charitable Organizations/Non-Profit.

Now in its 19th year, the Communicator Awards is the leading international awards program recognizing big ideas in marketing and communications. With more than 6000 entries received from across the US and around the world, the Communicator Awards is the largest and most competitive awards program honoring the creative excellence for communications professionals.

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February 13, 2013

Sharing Your Story Through Video

This post is brought to you by Christina DaCosta, Online Media Manager for SAGE. Christina will be teaching a 4-week course titled “Sharing Your Story Through Video” for LGBT older adults in the NYC area, as part of SAGE Story. SAGE Story is a national digital storytelling program for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults. The purpose of our program is to strengthen the storytelling skills—and draw on the unique life experiencesof LGBT elders to diversify the public narratives on aging, long-term care and LGBT rights.

Video storytelling has become a powerful tool for nonprofits, the largest for-profit corporations in the world, and everyday people. Why? Because stories have power. From Greek mythology to fairy tales, to campfire ghost-stories, people love to tell and hear stories. Nowadays, videos, and the ease of creating and posting videos online, are the modern-day equivalent of storytelling. The rise of affordable smartphones, tablets and webcams has led to more and more individuals and companies uploading their own content to the web to tell their storyand you can, too!

Reports show that 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. You read that right, every minute! With that staggering fact, you may wonder if your story is important enough to share, and I’m here to tell you, IT IS.

As a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) older person, the story of just one experience out of the many in your life can create a ripple effect! You could help change a Senator’s mind on the Older Americans Act; you could give a young lesbian girl hope; you could create respect in a work environment; you could inspire someone to volunteer—and so much more.

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