Microsoft Australia Partners with Non-Profit Group to Provide Technology to People with Disabilities

Sydney, Australia, Aug. 1, 2002 — The Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard, announced a joint initiative this week between Technical Aid to the Disabled (TAD) and Microsoft Australia to enable people with disabilities to access today’s technology.

TAD is a non-profit organization that aims to improve the quality of life of Australian people with disabilities and those caring for them through the application of technology. The partnership with Microsoft Australia will enable TAD’s Computer Loan Service to provide PCs in the homes of people with disabilities and access to on-line services, education and social interaction. Microsoft support will allow TAD to customize donated PCs with CD-ROMS, sound cards, modems and additional memory to ensure they operate at optimum levels, allowing people with disabilities access to the best technology.

According to Sancha Donald, CEO of TAD in New South Wales, “Microsoft’s ongoing support enables TAD’s Computer Loan Service to provide PCs to people who would otherwise be isolated and without access to many services which other Australians take for granted.

“Technology is a part of everyday life but the disadvantaged in our community are at risk of being left behind. Microsoft’s support helps TAD and our volunteers meet increasing demand,” said Donald.

Microsoft first formed a partnership with TAD in 1999 under its Microsoft eMpower Australia Campaign, and over the course of three years TAD has become the largest recipient of donated software through Microsoft’s Community Assistance Initiative. This donation has so far totalled AU$427,000 (US$232,000), with a commitment to further support.

“Today we are delighted to announce an additional grant valued at AU$75,000 (US$41,000) to assist TAD in bringing the potential of technology to even more people with disabilities,” said Paul Houghton, Managing Director of Microsoft Australia. “TAD’s Computer Loan Service can provide a life changing opportunity and we feel privileged to play a role in this important program.”

“Microsoft has a fundamental belief that technology can help all individuals overcome obstacles and achieve their full potential. It was with this in mind that the Microsoft eMpower Australia Campaign was established, to help bridge the digital divide and enable people to realise the possibilities and opportunities the provision of technology provides,” said Houghton.

Shaun Russell is one grateful recipient of TAD and Microsoft’s assistance. Shaun was diagnosed with a severe psychiatric disability which incapacitated him for six years. TAD provided Shaun with computer equipment to meet his needs, helping him improve his computer skills and to eventually re-enter the workforce. Since receiving this support, Shaun has become the consumer representative of CARE Employment and the coordinator of Tomorrow Makers, which provides training to people with disabilities to help them re-enter the workforce.

About Technical Aid to the Disabled

Technical Aid to the Disabled (TAD) is a unique charity which uses technology and the creativity of its technically skilled volunteers to help children and adults with disabilities get the most out of life.

Since 1975, TAD has modified and made equipment to help individuals with disabilities when commercially made equipment is not available or is unsuitable. TAD volunteers also refurbish donated computer equipment to provide computers to people in the community, including the aged and those with disabilities. Each item is made or modified to meet a specific need.

Since 1975, TAD has completed in excess of 25, 000 projects and loaned over 1,000 computers. In 2001 the organization assisted over 2,000 children and adults.

TAD receives limited Federal and State Government funding and, therefore, must build partnerships with organisations which are dedicated to meeting the needs of local communities.

In the Australian state of New South Wales, TAD operates 12 metropolitan zone groups and has 13 country and rural branches.

About Microsoft eMpower Australia Campaign

The Microsoft eMpower Australia Campaign was created to help disadvantaged Australian communities bridge the digital divide. The Campaign responds to the needs of underprivileged Australians by providing cash, software support, technology education, and skills training to a broad range of non-profit organisations.

Over the past four years the Microsoft eMpower Australia Campaign, through its Partnership Program and Community Assistance Initiative, has contributed almost AU$20 million (US$10.8 million) to more than 2,000 non-profit organizations serving disadvantaged communities across Australia, through four distinct eMpower programs.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.

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