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Seniors get up to speed on new technology

BRANDON — Technology is inextricably woven into today’s culture. The modern cellphone is a computer unto itself. There are desktops, laptops, notebooks, iPads, even computer watches. Automatic teller machines, grocery store registers, gas pumps — even our cars are computerized. Social media has become a catchphrase for how many people stay in touch via computer, be it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or basic email.
Many people who came of age and into the workplace in the last 40 years have become so familiar with computer technology that they can’t imagine life without it.
But there is an entire generation of older people who missed the world’s computer juggernaut. Many seniors moved through adulthood without the need for technology and today find themselves in need of one-on-one assistance to stay current and stay in touch.
Enter Senior Circuit. Brandon residents John Bryant and Linda Devereux started the business in January to help seniors learn how to use different programs and troubleshoot their computer issues.
“A lot of older people want to know how to use technology and just figure they never will,” Bryant said. “You go and buy an iPhone and ask if they have classes on how to use it and the answer is ‘no.’”
The couple got the idea for the business through Devereux’s work as a home care aide for the elderly. They saw that many seniors had the desire to use computers, but didn’t know where to go for help. Others already had the hardware, but were encountering technical issues they did not have the knowledge to fix them. Still more wanted to learn how to use Facebook or Skype, the video conferencing software that allows the user to see the person they are talking to on their computer screen.
But to someone who may not have the institutional knowledge of basic computer navigation, the prospect can be daunting.
“We want to take the fear out of it,” Bryant said. “We want it to be fun, and as long as there is someone there to help, it takes the fear away.”
Bryant is a former software developer and 1999 graduate of Castleton State College with a Bachelor of Science degree in computer information systems and a minor in music. Many local residents may remember him as the piano player from the Ball & Chain Café over the now-closed Briggs Carriage Bookstore. He has years of experience in programming and repairing all types of computers and computer systems.
Devereux has a certificate in business information technology and computer networking from Aims Community College in Colorado. She also holds a B.A. in psychology from Johnson State College. She works with At Home Senior Care and RSVP of Addison County.
Senior Circuit has been steadily building a client base and is hoping to grow the business even more. Bryant and Devereux can help people decide which computer may be best for them, and then help set up new machines and teach them how to use them.
Devereux said the other faction of the business includes many seniors who have already taken the plunge and own a computer, but need help with a software or programming issue.
“Some people are coming in about maintenance and repair issues,” Devereux said. “There are quite a few who already own computers.”
Bryant said that because computers are so pervasive and woven into modern life, more is expected from the average person in navigating the Internet and working with government websites like Social Security. Devereux said the goal of Senior Circuit is to offer regular classes and workshops. They are currently planning a class on how to use Skype.
The couple is also accepting used computer equipment (no more than 15 years old), which Bryant can refurbish and rebuild and use with clients.
Senior Circuit charges $50 an hour for lessons and $25/hour for troubleshooting, however Bryant said he tries to keep costs down for customer and will cap his hours if necessary. Each lesson is tailored to the needs of the customer.
“We want to make someone’s life a little easier,” Bryant said. “We want to make a difference.”
For more information or to set up an appointment, call Senior Circuit at 342-5632, or email seniorcircuit86@yahoo.com. There is also a website, www.seniorcircuitvt.net.

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