Gifting the 'Power of One'

Recently I talked to a group of seniors at the Westlake Center for Community Services. Our conversation was on Facebook and how it, and other services based in the digital world, can help people of all ages.

This group consisted of seniors already using some sort of technology, like a traditional computer, and seniors on-the-fence in adopting technology. Gauging from the questions coming at me, everyone was chomping at the bit to learn more!

It wasn’t like that when I started visiting area libraries, senior centers and senior communities almost four years ago. Back then technology was something seniors could ignore and not embrace. Seeing the senior demographic becoming more curious about the benefits offered by the digital world and open to the idea of embracing technology is promising since even senior services are starting to have their footprint in the digital world. And like a broken record: technology is in every nook and cranny of our lives, so let's benefit from it!

As we are in the midst of the 2015 holiday season, you may be thinking about a technology gift for yourself or your loved ones. Although there are exceptions, for many whose needs are basic I continue to recommend the “Power of One” devices, devices with a touchscreen capabilities such as tablets and smartphones, instead of traditional computers. Even when there are more laptops with touchscreens running Microsoft’s Windows operating system, I still recommend tablets and smartphones running Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android operating system for intuitiveness.

I qualify “basic” needs as using digital world services such as email; social media like Facebook; browsing the web for entertainment, news and knowledge; online banking and bill paying to save on stamps, checks and even gas; online shopping; and to stay connected with family and friends through video chats. Those are my definition of basic needs.

Two of my friends recently shared with me one of the many challenges that plague seniors when it comes to using traditional computers: hand-eye coordination. One explained that when you look on the screen to position the mouse cursor on the button, link, etc., many instinctively look down before clicking the mouse button. That head movement, in many instances, translates to slight muscle movement of the hand holding your mouse, resulting in the mouse cursor traveling off of the desired target. This in turn brings unintended results, like clicking on the wrong link, and leads to frustration.

Instead, when you use a Power of One device, your finger is the mouse cursor and touching the screen is akin to a mouse click so there is no coordination of touch and sight. Also if you have any disability such as visual or hearing impairment, most newer iOS and Android systems, combined with the hardware’s capability, will support transcription through voice recognition or audio feedback (read back). In fact even yours truly uses the transcription through voice recognition frequently on the smartphone because my fingers are too big for the onscreen keyboard!

Tak Sato

Business and technology strategist/consultant with 25 years of experience. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and MBA from Cleveland State University.

As founder of geek with a heart, "Hand-holding You in the Digital World", Tak helps Individuals, Seniors, Families, Small Businesses, Schools, and Non-Profits utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives.

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Volume 7, Issue 24, Posted 9:42 AM, 12.15.2015