The Supporting Older Adults through Relationships and Resources with Technology (SOARR) project is a community-based collaboration that is forming strategic partnerships and building relationships with statewide and local agencies to address gaps in technology accessibility, relying on feedback from community members to create a more meaningful impact on older adults across Colorado. A key component of the project is to develop online teaching and support modules that are used by local community Tech Mentors to help elders in their community learn to use tablets, computers, phones, etc., for telehealth visits, social connections, banking, shopping and other important activities. Collaborators include 20 regional and county aging service organizations, senior housing organizations, veteran volunteer organizations, and CU Anschutz Multidisciplinary Center on Aging. Funding is being provided through the Daniels Fund.
An initial survey of over 1700 older adults in Colorado resulted in over 400 responses. Results of the data revealed that many older individuals feel isolated but that technology offers them a solution. It also noted that use of technology still has many barriers including access to devices, training, connectivity and accessibility. To address some of the initial accessibility challenges, the project hosts a web site which links to accessibility features for phones, tablets and computers across a variety of common technologies and platforms. The project will continue for 18 months and will focus next on adding community resources to support tech mentors.