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Improving Digital Literacy in the Asian-American Community at GLIDE

CTN participant and Tenderloin resident Su Cui Li receives a Lenovo laptop

How do I connect to Wifi? Where do I access email? What is Google search?  Questions that sound so rudimentary to us but to seniors who’ve been left out of the digital revolution seem remote and complicated.

For older adults, 65+, the importance of being able to use technology to help remain mentally fit  and  support self-sufficiency can’t be stressed enough. But also in times of social isolation,  being able to hop on the Internet and find helpful online resources can be of tremendous value.

GLIDE is currently partnering with the Community Tech Network (CTN), a San Francisco-based non-profit organization that supports computer centers and technology training programs for the undeserved in our community enabling participants to learn how to connect to basic services, including lost-cost Internet and laptop access.

Instructor Melissa Ao was busy teaching to a group of Asian-American seniors in Freedom Hall eager to make use of a Lenovo laptop in their training. Once they complete the five one hour weekly training lessons, the laptop is theirs to keep. “The seniors here have never used a computer before so they are most interested in learning, ” says Melissa. “But today was particularly challenging, as I was teaching in both Mandarin and Cantonese.”

During the pandemic, many low-income seniors were stuck at home and without any access to the Internet. “What I love teaching most is when I see their reactions. I see that “Aha” moment on their faces. What’s a simple task for us becomes a new sense of discovery for them. I see their smiling faces as soon as they learn how to email a photo to one of their friends.”

CTN instructor Melissa Ao teaching Asian-American seniors how to use their computers

CTN provides two separate services to GLIDE, including Home Connect, funded by the Department of Disability & Aging Services (DAS), which offers tablets, Internet & ACP (Affordable Connectivity Program) application connectivity assistance, remote device training and tech support to older adults and persons with disabilities aged 60+ in English, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Russian, and Tagalog languages. In addition to Digital Equity, a service funded by the Mayor’s Office of Housing & Community Development (MOHCD), which provides laptop devices, device training, internet & ACP application connectivity assistance, and device tech support to those aged 18+ to Cantonese, English, and Spanish-speaking language groups.

“It’s always an honor for CTN to partner with GLIDE in bringing inclusive digital literacy skills training to Tenderloin residents,” said Stephen Minor, Sr. Digital Equity Program Manager, CTN.

“CTN’s Digital Equity program exemplifies the mission of GLIDE by providing radically inclusive services to marginalized communities by getting them tools, training, and support to get online and connected to life changing essential resources,” Stephen added. 

Watch Tenderloin resident and Cantonese CTN participant Su Cui Li express her joy at learning about computers in the video below. CTN coordinator Josh Tran interprets for us.