Mayor Adams, Department for Aging, distributes 1,000 free computer tablets to Asian seniors in New York

May 27, 2022

Mayor Adams works to bridge the digital divide for seniors without internet service or digital equipment

11,000 tablets are now being distributed to connect older people to additional city services

NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Aging (DFTA) Commissioner Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez today announced the free distribution of 1,000 additional mobile tablets equipped with a Wi-Fi connection to older New Yorkers in an effort to bridge the digital divide. and help them connect to city services. To wrap up Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month and Older Americans Month, today’s tablet giveaway took place at the Benjamin Rosenthal Innovative Senior Center in Flushing, N.D. Queens, which serves a large Asian American community and is part of a program that has now distributed 11,000 tablets to New York City seniors, of which approximately 3,700 have been distributed since Mayor Adams took office in January.

“Age shouldn’t get in the way of staying in touch with loved ones or participating in online social and educational programs, so giving away an additional 1,000 free tablets will help limit the social isolation that many New- Older Yorkers feel while narrowing the digital divide,” said Mayor Adams. “As we wrap up AAPI Heritage Month and Senior Citizens Month, I know these tablets will help our older New Yorkers access the city’s resources that are vital to their health and well-being. The Department for aging should be commended for its good work connecting 11,000 seniors in our city to tablets.”

“DFTA continues to put tablets in the hands of seniors and ensure they have the skills to use these tools. Many of us rely on technology to function day-to-day and programs like this ensure that communities are not left behind,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Social Services Anne Williams-Isom. “These Wi-Fi enabled tablets will reduce social isolation and allow seniors to stay in touch with friends and family.”

“Bringing tablets to seniors dramatically increases their ability to access resources like those provided every day at seniors’ centers, which have created many innovative virtual programs over the past two years,” said DFTA Commissioner Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez. “Since the start of the pandemic, the number of seniors who have participated in online physical, artistic and educational classes has increased, and we know that in the future, these online services will continue to play a major role in the how we serve seniors, making this distribution even more important.

The tablets distributed today will help seniors stay connected and engaged, helping to reduce social isolation. In addition to having free Wi-Fi service through December 31, the tablets are installed with Zoom, Gmail and the NYC COVID Safe app, allowing residents to access DFTA and other city resources. . Seniors will also receive free training on their new tablets at local senior centers and learn how to connect to virtual DFTA programs. During the distribution event, DFTA referred recipients of the tablets to the nearest senior center that offers training in the use of the tablets.

“For years I have been proud to lead the fight to increase internet access,” said U.S. Representative Grace Meng. “In 2019, long before the COVID-19 crisis began, I introduced legislation to create a grant scheme for schools and libraries to purchase mobile hotspots. And during the pandemic, I introduced another bill to create a special emergency connectivity fund at the Federal Communications Commission for schools and libraries to buy not only access points, but also modems, routers, services Internet and Internet-connected devices, and last year I was thrilled that it was included in the US bailout This $7.1 billion that I helped get is already helping more people connect, and a large portion of that funding currently provides internet services to many of our city’s schools and libraries. It’s great to join Mayor Adams and Commissioner Cortés-Vázquez in handing out free tablets m I am grateful to the seniors in my congressional district, and thank them for helping to bridge the digital divide in New York City. I look forward to continuing to improve connectivity in our communities and neighborhoods. The internet is vital to our daily lives and all New Yorkers, from college students to seniors, deserve to have access to it.

“The digital divide is one of the many barriers older people will face in 2022. These tablets will help connect them to the information, resources and services they need,” said Toby Ann Stavisky, New York State Senator. “We celebrate both AAPI Heritage and Older Americans Month, so both groups will benefit. I thank Mayor Adams and DFTA Commissioner Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez for putting our elderly Asian population first during AAPI Heritage Month.

“Social isolation and loneliness are serious and growing problems for older adults in New York City,” said New York State Assemblyman Ron Kim, Chair of the New York State Assembly Committee on Aging. “For many immigrant communities, these issues can be exacerbated by cultural and language barriers. I want to thank Mayor Adams and Commissioner Cortés-Vázquez for providing these tablets to seniors in Flushing and for supporting measures to address the negative impact of isolation among seniors. As chairman of the Assembly’s Committee on Aging, I believe our state needs to do more to address the plight of aging New Yorkers, especially those aging alone, and while in Albany I plan to take all the necessary measures to meet this challenge.

“It’s imperative that we bridge the digital divide between our city’s seniors and give them the tools to stay connected to family, friends and online resources,” said Crystal Hudson, New York City Council Member, Chair of the Committee on Aging. “Over the past two years, we have seen the far-reaching effects that social isolation can have on all of us, especially our older neighbours. Today’s distribution is an important milestone for our city as we continue to strive to stave off the isolation of seniors and keep them connected to their loved ones with dignity and independence. As Chair of the Committee on Aging, I look forward to continuing to work with the Adams Administration and DFTA Commissioner Cortés-Vázquez to ensure that we meet the needs of all older New Yorkers, from programs to digital literacy and technology to health care and access to transportation. ”

“During the pandemic, technology has become a lifeline for us to stay digitally connected with our family and friends when we couldn’t be with them in person,” said Sandra Ung, New York City Council Member. “In the AAPI community, the pandemic has been – and continues to be – particularly difficult for our seniors, who have felt the isolation more intensely because they lacked the tools to stay in touch with their loved ones or to access the services they desperately needed. I want to thank DFTA not only for providing these tablets and free internet service, but also for their commitment to providing free training programs and investing in digital literacy so that our seniors can get the most out of their new technology.

Today’s distribution of computer tablets was the final scheduled distribution under the DFTA free tablet initiative launched in the fall of 2021. The goal of the tablet distribution program has been to bridge the digital divide for older New Yorkers, who don’t have internet. activated electronic device.

During the city’s lockdown due to COVID-19, senior center services transitioned to virtual programming and telephone-based services. Virtual programming has enabled approximately 40,000 seniors to safely access important services and programs from their homes. Providing older New Yorkers with the tech gear they need will build on the success of virtual programming and help make it accessible to even more older adults.

In addition to keeping seniors engaged and digitally connected, the distribution initiative also achieves one of the goals set out in DFTA’s Community Care Plan – a five-year plan to expand support services for seniors and help older people to age in place and avoid institutionalization. The community care plan builds on success and lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the expansion of virtual services that allowed many seniors to stay active and engaged while they stayed at home. home to avoid contracting COVID-19.

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