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Microsoft Launches Virtual Senior Center to Help Homebound Seniors

March 17, 2010

In a bid to help keep homebound seniors who are often lonely and need help engaged, Microsoft has joined the city of New York and Selfhelp Community Services Inc., to launch Virtual Senior Center.
By using computer, video and Internet technology in the seniors’ homes and at their local senior center, the Virtual Senior Center enhances the lives of homebound seniors.
With the Virtual Senior Center demonstration project, six homebound seniors (ranging in age from 67 to 103) will be connected to Selfhelp’s Benjamin Rosenthal Senior Center in Flushing, Queens. Each of the six seniors’ homes consists of facilities such as a desktop computer running Windows 7 as well as a touch-screen monitor, a small video camera, a microphone and broadband Internet service.

“Even in a large and vibrant city like New York, people can feel isolated and alone,” said Bonnie Kearney, director of Marketing for Trustworthy Computing at Microsoft. “At Microsoft, we work with governments, technology partners and nonprofit organizations around the world to create inclusive communities that welcome people because of their abilities rather than excluding them, even inadvertently, because of their disabilities.”
To enable the homebound seniors to interact with classmates and instructors at the center, video cameras and monitors have been strategically placed around the senior center. The built-in accessibility options and programs in Windows 7 make it easier for the seniors to see, hear and use their computers, such as the full-screen magnifier.

Raju Shanbhag is a contributing editor for unified communications. To read more of Raju’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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