Voices From the Lab: TFA’s iPads for All

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The retired couple held the iPad between them, discussing how all the different features on the mobile device could help them as they travel. “We can use the maps and Internet to plan our trips,” the husband said as he scrolled through a web site. “I like that we can take photos and videos, and then post them for our kids and grandkids,” the wife added. “Make them jealous of the fun we’re having.”

The couple recently attended an iPad and Android tablet comparison course held by Technology For All’s Rural Texas and San Antonio (RTSA) office at one of its public computing centers. The event was one of many at RTSA sites for public computer center users to try out mobile devices.

In the Johnson City library, some teenage users made video book reviews for other patrons to watch. Another library hosted a teen “mystery” event where iPads were used to look up clues and solve the disappearance of the head librarian. Community members got involved, including a local police officer who interviewed “suspects” on camera. Some users just chose to play with the mobile devices, checking out features such as online books, games, and other applications. “I’m trying to figure out if I really need one, or just want one,” one elderly user said. “This is a big help.”

Seniors and people with Limited English Proficiency found the mobile devices highly useful. They found them easy to use and were able to search the Internet, email, and post on social media websites more easily than on a PC. “I was able to find some music I like, and I contacted an aunt in South America,” said one user. “It was really easy.”

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