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Making Seniors Fit for the Knowledge Society

The association "Seniors in the Knowledge Society e.V. " (Seniorinnen und Senioren in der Wissensgesselschaft e.V., VSiW), was founded in order to show seniors the way into the knowledge society. The seniors should be made familiar with the purpose and the use of the new information and communication technologies, assisted in acquiring media competences and helped in getting rid of initial reservations towards products and services of the information and the communication economy. This includes today the Internet and other modern information and communication technologies, such as the visual telephone, modern banking terminal or intelligent home technologies.

The new technologies and information ways require new competencies, which not all members of the public have. Especially people over the 50 years of age are still largely excluded from these developments. For example, only 3% of people in Germany who are over 55 years of age use a computer. Among online users only 1% are older than 60 years. What the older people know about Internet is mainly limited to what is mediated by radio and TV. However, many older people are interested in getting to know these technologies better.

In order to achieve this goal, together with the support from the Ministry of Economy and Technology as well as companies IBM, Vobis and other well known companies, VSiW has organised a campaign "Senior-Info-Mobil: Internet und Wohntechnik" (Senior-Info-Mobil: Internet and Home Technology), which provides people in the third age with the opportunity to inform themselves about the benefits and the use of these new technologies. A custom made double-decker bus with a built-in Internet Café gives seniors the possibility to learn about Internet and to test the first steps in using it. Furthermore, a mobile "intelligent house" should demonstrate how older people can remain longer in their familiar environment after physical limitations have appeared.

The aim of the campaign is to support older people in forming their own opinion about the For and Against the use of these new technologies and to strengthen their ability for self-help.

The information campaign  was started at the beginning of June 1998 on the German Turnfest (sports festival) in Munich and in a four weeks´ campaign from the 9th of June till the 9th of July 1998 in the area of Ulm/Heidenheim/Biberach, followed by weekly actions in Magdeburg and Alfeld. After the success of this first pilot phase a federal-wide information campaign is now being carried out since Autumn ´98.

Accompanying actions take place on many campaign locations. For example lectures, demonstrations, "introductory courses" as well as discussions on relevant themes are planned to take place in provided rooms or in an additional tent. Through close co-operation with local institutions, organisations and individuals, the information campaign wants to achieve that on the local level, suitable possibilities to use new technologies will be developed and made accessible to seniors.

If you would like to support the campaign, need more information or want to co-operate, you can contact VSiW or any of the three organisations appointed by the association.

Sitz des Vereins: Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V.
51147 Köln
Tel.: 02203/601-3596
Fax: 02203/601-2700

Gesellschaft für Kommunikations-und Technologieforschung mbH
Oxfordstraße 2
D-53111 Bonn
Tel.: 0228/98530-0
Fax: 0228/98530-12

Zentrum für Allgemeine Wissenschaftliche Weiterbildung
Universität Ulm
D-89069 Ulm
Tel.: 0731/50-23193
Fax.: 0731/50-23197


Institut für Sozialwissenschaftliche Analysen und Beratung
Overstolzenstraße 15
50677 Köln
Tel.: 02 21/41-20 94
Fax: 41-70 15