Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

This Connect.DC initiative helps seniors use their smartphones efficiently

The Senior Tech initiative launched in the District in March. Program coordinator Adrian Sutton said he has taught more than 100 seniors how to better navigate their smartphones.
Are smartphones really accessible to everyone, including seniors?

Maybe, but not if they don’t know how to use them fully. Adrian Sutton works with D.C.’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) as a project coordinator for Connect.DC. He launched an initiative to make sure seniors are using their smartphones as efficiently as possible.

Since we’re discussing accessibility this month, here’s a reminder of how we are defining the term: accessibility is the design of technology — products, devices, services, environments — that is inclusive of as many groups of people as possible.

On that note, Sutton’s Senior Tech was created to help older District residents navigate the digital landscape through senior-based programming and tech trainings. Since launching the initiative at the end of March, Sutton told Technical.ly that he has helped more than 100 seniors through the smartphone training course that takes place across all wards at libraries, rec centers, churches, senior wellness centers and even Connect.DC’s Mobile Tech Lab, which fits 15 people and is equipped with wifi and demonstration TVs.

“The biggest issue a lot of seniors have is, you know how you press the hold button and your phone can go asleep in five seconds? They don’t get that,” Sutton said. “My first two weeks, a lot of people didn’t even know they could send pictures.”


The free program is a four-course workshop where Sutton “teaches seniors how to become millennials with their devices.” As far as the spectrum of age, Sutton said his oldest student is 100 years old, while he has also taught a 40-year-old during the program. He said majority of his students on average are 64 years old.

The workshops cover topics such as how to send photos, download apps, navigate social media channels like Twitter and Instagram and more. One app that Sutton focuses on teaching the seniors about is D.C.’s 311 app, where you can contact the city’s Office of Unified Communications through this digital one-stop service outlet.

Sutton spends the first hour presenting, and the second hour is used for workshop and one-on-one support. He said a majority of seniors have Androids because of the Obama Phone initiative, but he’s able to code switch and teach for iPhone users as well.

Once seniors complete all four classes, Sutton issues them a “senior degree in tech.” At the conclusion of the program, Sutton also gives his students his contact information, to provide continuous tech support.

Interested seniors can request Sutton’s workshop through the program’s site. The website also has a calendar listing o all upcoming workshops and locations. The next workshop will be held on May 16 at 4.p.m at the Northwest One Library, located at 155 L Streer NW. This class will cover social media.

But that’s not all, Sutton also works with All Hands on Tech, a free tech support pilot for D.C. residents that he defines as “the city’s answer to Best Buy’s Geek Squad.”

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