Addressing the Digital Divide

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Provided by Fellowship Square

A recent donation of smart devices to Woodbridge senior affordable housing residents helps seniors connect with the world.Seniors at Lake Ridge Fellowship House (Woodbridge), Hunters Woods Fellowship House (Reston) and Largo Landing Fellowship House (Upper Marlboro, Maryland) now have access to video calling and voice assistant functions to facilitate daily tasks and help residents connect with friends and loved ones. The generous donation of 428 Google Nest Hub Max devices to the senior affordable housing communities is made possible by the Washington, D.C.-based aging services advocacy association LeadingAge, and New York-based senior living voice assistant technology company Volara. The organizations and their partners are working together to provide the Google Next Hub Max devices to 9,000 residents across more than 300 senior living communities in the U.S. and U.K. as part of an initiative to help seniors maintain connection and avoid isolation.Set up of the devices and training sessions for residents began this week at Lake Ridge Fellowship House.“I’m really enjoying it. I’m enjoying the music, I’m able to play all kinds of music from the 1940s and 1950s. I love getting the weather from it. Honestly, I even asked it a joke. It’s so fun. I’m enjoying it. Thank you to everyone who provided this to us,” said 80-year-old Lake Ridge Fellowship House resident Bette Walsh.The Google Nest Hub Max device has touchscreen displays, video calling, support for eight languages, and a hearing-impaired mode, among many other features. Volara has provided instructions specifically developed for older users and trained Fellowship House staff on the devices so that they can provide assistance onsite. As part of the signup process, Volara has pre-programmed each Google Nest Hub Max with personal contacts as directed by each resident. Residents can immediately use voice commands to make video calls, enabling seniors to communicate with their children, grandchildren, and friends face-to-face via video call just by uttering a simple voice command. Importantly, the device’s ability to respond to voice commands means that someone with limited vision, reduced finger dexterity or mobility issues can easily use it.“The ability to bring Google Nest technology into our residents’ apartments will go a long way towards enabling connections and facilitating daily life. Our residents live on a limited fixed income that averages $10,000/year. Most do not use a smartphone, and many are overwhelmed by today’s technology. This voice-assisted, simple to use device can be transformative in the lives of our residents, giving them easier access to their community, but also to music, sports scores, weather, and a broad range of entertainment just a voice command away. Importantly, this helps address the digital inequity and affordability issues that many residents of affordable housing communities face,” said Christy Zeitz, CEO of Fellowship Square.

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