ComputAbility & Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician (MCDST)

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Ability Society
City & State:
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

Build a better community

Submission Information

Impact Essay

Persons with disabilities are often faced with isolation and poverty; increasing a person’s knowledge is a key first step to inclusion, sustainability and equality. Also, many persons with disabilities are not provided the opportunity to learn new skills in a user friendly environment. The Ability Society, with the help of TechSoup and Microsoft products, operates two free computer training programs for seniors and persons with special needs*: ComputAbility & the Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician (MCDST) Program. Through these innovative programs, participants are able to achieve a level of computer literacy that will assist them in pursuing goals in education, employment, volunteerism or specific interests. We also supply needed assistive technology such as voice recognition software, screen magnification/reading, special keyboards, switches and height adjustable desks. Many of our students have re-entered the work force after participating in this computer training. ComputAbility is a volunteer-driven program that provides an opportunity for persons with special needs and seniors to become more independent and have a higher quality of life by obtaining computer literacy. This program has been creating and enhancing computer user skills for 8 years. All programs are available to persons with any special need in any age group at no cost. Our program is unique in that there is no time limit in which to access the service.ComputAbility is available in two formats: Tutor-Assisted and Support Worker-Assisted. The Tutor-Assisted program provides one-on-one computer training at the participant’s pace. Individuals are matched to a qualified volunteer tutor who will provide one-on-one goal oriented computer training for a minimum of one hour per week. We offer a range of training including basic skills, Windows, MS Office, Internet Explorer & Web Design (FrontPage) and programming. We even custom design training programs to suit individual needs. The Support Worker-Assisted program focuses on educational and recreational software and allows individuals to work on a computer along with their support worker, family member or friend. This year we added a new training program – the Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician Program. This is a free desktop technician program that combines an instructor led classroom component with a life and job skills development component. The MCDST Program is designed for people with limited or sporadic work experience, incomplete education or occupation-specific training that is limiting. Often these participants have difficulty matching their skills to the job market or need extra supports such as being able to coordinate with doctor or therapist appointments while working. The course provides the technical information needed to work on a help desk. In addition it provides the necessary life and job skills that enable the participants to secure and maintain employment in this field. Classroom sizes remain small. Our students receive all of their textbooks, learning materials and testing for free. Both of these programs create a whole subset of new Microsoft lovers and users who would not ordinarily have access to this type of popular software. We strongly feel that these two programs enable us to build a better community. * We define special need as any type of disability (physical, mental or developmental), any type of illness, low income or English as a second language.


Submission Category
Transformations to Maximize Impact