The National MS Society's Computer Outreach Program provides computers to those who living with multiple sclerosis and are restricted to their own homes or are living in long term care facilities. This unique program enables these individuals to remain connected to the world beyond their homes despite financial constraints that preclude them from purchasing computers or assistive technology.
Often, individuals living with MS who reside in long term care facilities are much younger than the typical population in those facilities; they are eager to participate in social media or online support networks. They are hungry for the social contact modern day technology provides; they are interested in gathering information on their disease from the internet, continuing their education and connecting with loved ones. They want to grow, learn and move their lives forward.
The Computer Outreach Program provides those who qualify with a laptop or desktop computer, pre-loaded with adaptive software and configured to each user's specific needs. Each recipient will receive training on software and technology, as well as access to Dell in-home support with additional limited support from the chapter. The laptops, along with the speech recognition software included in Windows 7 and a webcam to use with Skype and other free software, will enable them to enjoy the quality of life everyone deserves.
A recent recipient of a computer shares this thought about his newly acquired computer:
"I'm learning more everyday, and as a matter of fact, I'm using it [the computer] more than the TV these days. It's been a true blessing. I've been able to reach out to my family, who I haven't seen in years on Facebook."b
A woman says:
"You changed my life. I am no longer afraid of this giant machine in front of me. Thank you, thank you, thank you."
Another recipient of the Computer Outreach Program - a woman in her early 40s, diagnosed with MS and living in a nursing home with a general geriatric population - has informed the Society she is now able to take college classes online. She would not have been able to do this without the help of this program. The computer has energized her, providing her with educational opportunities and a social outlet.
How you can help:
The program depends on the generousity of people who donate used computers/equipment to the program. Thank you for considering a donation!
The suggested minimum requirements are as follows:
- 1.5 ghz CPU or higher
- 1 gb RAM or higher (DDR or SDRAM)
- Windows XP Operating System or later
- CD ROM or DVD ROM Drives
- Flat Screen Monitors (No CRT's)
Printers, scanners and fax machines cannot be accepted.
For more information on how to make a financial contribution to this important program, please contact Eric Szafran at 800.344.4867, ext. 52543, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The National MS Society is looking for Computer Outreach Program volunteers who would be willing to take on the role of refurbishing donations, loading software and assistive/adaptive technology and helping to train people living with MS on the new technology and media. Volunteers should be willing to follow up with recipients of the equipment on a monthly basis through Skype, email, website and phone calls. This position would work closely with the program coordinator. An IT background is helpful but not required. The position requires knowledge of the following:
- Windows-based machines
- How to connect a machine to the internet via ethernet or wireless
- Re-image donated machines with licensed software
- Troubleshoot issues regarding any equipment
- Social media, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube
- Adaptive/assistive and free software such as Dragon Speech Zoom Text, Skype, etc.
See the real life experience of a program participant here.
For more information about this program, please contact Eric Szafran at 800.344.4867, ext. 52543, or email email@example.com.