Digital Recycling: questioning obsolescence


The ACM’s Digital Recycling Program is a pilot project started in January 2012 that aims to improve access to online communication and technologies for older adults with limited mobility and resources. Our research seeks to intervene in an era where social isolation and poverty among older adults is on the rise in Montreal (FGM Vital Signs 2010). While innovations in technology have created new and easier ways to communicate and socialize online, the costs of accessing these technologies are unaffordable for many older adults. By redistributing discarded technologies from university campuses to community organizations serving older adults, we aim to bridge this accessibility gap and reduce technological waste.

We are now in the process of refurbishing older communications technologies for use by community organizations in Montreal, such as the Atwater Library and Computer Centre.

Projected Outcomes
• Facilitates seniors’ use of communication
• Reduces technology waste
• Fosters intergenerational connections between
the university and the greater community
• Addresses a gap in access to technologies

We receive voluntary donations equipment from university offices, laboratories and individual staff members. We then assess these items for damage and compatibility,
and provide repairs and replacement parts if necessary. Refurbished equipment, including scanners, laptops and other communications technologies, is then provided to community groups, along with start-up training and
workshops as needed.

Initial Outcomes
We have already received two laptops, eight scanners, and a mini-projector for refurbishment and re-use. So far, we have provided Montreal’s Atwater Library and
Computer Centre with two scanners for use in seniors’ workshops, as well as a laptop for use by a senior facilitating visits and workshops seniors’ residences and community organizations. We have also provided a digital video camera for use by
RECAA, a community group providing education around issues of elder abuse.


Kim Sawchuk, Arwen Fleming (Concordia); Beth Symansky (ALCC)