Microsoft Grant Helps People with Disabilities “Touch the Future”

ATLANTA, Oct. 27, 1999 — Economically disadvantaged people with disabilities can now take another step toward improving their technology skills, getting an education and establishing careers, thanks to a Connected Learning Community grant from Microsoft’s Southeast District. The grant, consisting of $15,000 in cash and $43,000 in software, will support Touch the Future, a nonprofit partner of Georgia’s “Tools for Life” program that empowers people with disabilities through assistive technology.

Touch the Future will use the contribution to establish a “ReBoot Life Long Learning Lab” in the Atlanta area, featuring several new and recycled computers outfitted with a variety of assistive technologies and loaded with Microsoft software. The lab, designed to help economically disadvantaged people with disabilities improve their technology skills, is part of the ReBoot Computer Recycling Project, established in March 1998 to promote independence for people with disabilities through the use of computer technology. The program acquires used computer equipment, evaluates and repairs it, loads it with licensed software, then distributes the equipment and provides training to people with disabilities. So far, ReBoot has given approximately 1,200 recycled computer systems to needy residents.

“Technology can have an incredible, empowering impact on people with disabilities, but one of the greatest challenges ReBoot faces is helping participants learn to use the computers they receive,” said ReBoot manager Carolyn Phillips. “Microsoft is helping make this possible.”

Microsoft’s Connected Learning Community grant program expands access to information technologies to enhance learning and communication in disadvantaged communities. In the past two years, CLC grants of over $600,000 in cash and $2.9 million in software have been awarded to organizations in 20 states, providing innovative programs that connect individuals of all ages to learning resources.

“The ReBoot program expands the possibilities for people with disabilities, and that’s what our CLC program is all about,” said Marty Paradise, general manager of Microsoft’s Southeast District. “The Life Long Learning Lab not only will provide computers to people with disabilities, but it will also enable them to grow and become more independent in their lives through training and education. Microsoft is committed to developing tools that make software more accessible to people with disabilities so they can extend their reach and lead fuller, more productive lives.”

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