CBAL offers free computer literacy programs

Staying in contact with distant family and friends these days requires knowing how to use a computer, smartphone or tablet.

Trisa Shanks

Arrow Lakes News

It’s a digital age — booking a plane ticket, Christmas shopping and government services are all moving to the internet. It’s hard to even get a live person sometimes when calling a business, and the on-hold recordings tell callers to visit their website. But the web is still something of a challenge for many Canadians, namely seniors, low income and new immigrants.

Staying in contact with distant family and friends these days requires knowing how to use a computer, smartphone or tablet. Many seniors have been left behind by technology, but the Community Access Program (CAP) has a solution for this. Well-meaning adult children have purchased their aging parents a communication gadget, then given them a crash course which is too fast and too full of jargon for the elderly to understand. Then they depart, often leaving their senior relative more confused than before the lesson. The technology becomes a source of fear and discomfort, instead of its intended purpose of keeping in contact.

This is a common problem according to Lisa Bjarnason, the Community Literacy Coordinator at Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy.

“I just love showing the seniors the simplest thing of copying and pasting or setting up email. They are wide eyed and so thrilled at being able to do this,” Bjarnason said.

She talked about the great fear many of her older students have in making dire mistakes that they won’t be able to fix. Bjarnason comes from a teaching background and enjoys sharing her passion for technology with people.

When asked why he volunteers his time at the CAP office, Garth Morehouse said, “You get to meet lots of different people, you can use the computer if you don’t have one at home and you can help other people if you know what the problem is that they might be having.”

The CAP site offers many different services, from faxing and photocopies to ESL on Tuesday afternoons and drop-in individual help with computer issues. There are three part time employees also providing a summer student job every year but is otherwise volunteer-run.

New volunteers are always welcome and a few more are needed. The hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Mondays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Access is off 1 St NW in the School Board Building. For further information, call (250) 265-3363.


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