Distance Computer Comfort Program

This Entry has been submitted.

Distance Computer Comfort Program

Burnaby, CanadaBurnaby, Canada
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

An online one-on-one computer tutoring program for people with disabilties. If you have an internet connection, you can have a tutor to assist your learning.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

A 2006 HRSDC report reviewed over fifty years of research and hundreds of various projects and programs on Aboriginals with disabilities, and concluded that, “…the single most effective intervention that could improve the employment prospects of persons with disability would be the availability of a personal computer and access to the Internet.” Yet, a follow-up survey found that unemployed people with disabilities were nearly 30% less likely to have basic computer skills as compared to a person without a disability. This lack of computer knowledge further marginalizes people with disabilities and limits their employability and community participation. With people with disabilities composing 16% of the BC population, this represents a huge untapped labour force.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Provide one-to-one computer tutoring to people with physical disabilities through online learning. We connect participants, in real-time, to a volunteer tutor, and allow them to hear each other and see eath other’s screen. This allows personal, customized learning, and model scales our existing computer tutoring program, allowing us to reach any Canadian, in any location, at any time, through the internet. We do not charge client’s for this service, as we aim to engage disenfranchised Canadians with disabilities to empower them to be more active members of our society.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

First step upon referral to the program is to conduct an intake, collecting contact information, disability information, education and employment background, and identify computer learning goals. The next step is to perform a remote computer setup, ensuring their computer station is ready and able to connect to their virtual computer tutor. We also make recommendations for adaptions to increase the accessibility of the workstation to increase its accessibility dependent upon the needs of the individual. Before the first tutoring session, we practice connecting to the virtual tutor, and also conduct a computer skills assessment. This allows us to measure their knowledge at the beginning of the program, and provides some further opportunities for learning. The participant is then paired with a tutor, where they meet once a week for a couple of hours a week, working on the computer goals identified by the participant. Each class is recorded so they can review the lesson to practice their skill development. A quick informal survey is issued at the end of every class to ensure the sessions are meeting the needs and expectations of the participant and volunteer. At the end of twelve weeks, they take another computer skills assessment to measure their learning. They also review their goals with staff to ensure they continue the momentum of the program onto new goals. This model has been piloted, with over 90% of sessions been marked “very good” or “excellent” and 51% of participants moving onto further outcomes (volunteerism, education, employment, or employment program).

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are many service centers / libraries that provide computer skills enhancement classes. The one-on-one nature allows people with disabilities to learn at their pace, on their goals, at a schedule that works for their care needs. There are locations where someone can go to use a computer. However, many of these service centers do not have the capacity to schedule and manage volunteers tutor. The online nature of our tutoring allows a central hub of volunteers management, centralizing scheduling while scaling the number of learners. The online nature of our tutoring allows people with disabilities to remove the difficulties of transportation, eliminating a significant barrier to participation.

Founding Story

Computer Comfort has been the cornerstone of the Neil Squire Society for over 25 years, helping people with disabilities use computer technology to remove barriers and increase opportunities for inclusion. Over this time, this client-centered program has had continual success in assisting people in returning to school, enrolling in an employment program, or moving onto work. With the growth of online communication technology such as Instant Messaging, Skype, and webinar tools, there are so many ways people now come together without being together. We experimented with connecting laptops and sharing screens and using headsets with a youth volunteer, and realized we could provide what we offer in our classrooms to anyone, anywhere.