Wednesday, April 18, 2012

FREE refurbished computers with GNU/Linux operating system

by Rachel Anderson, CFILC's Information & Assistance Advocate. Rachel regularly answers AT-related inquiries from people throughout California. Below is an answer to one of her calls.

Q: My computer crashed awhile ago. As I am looking for work and on a fixed income, I don’t think I will be able to purchase a new one. Do you know of any funding for technology for people with disabilities? Also, what can I do with my old broken computer?

Sincerely,

Computer-less but Tech-savvy


A: Dear Computer-less but Tech-savvy,

Have you heard of the Alameda County Computer Resource Center? Or their sister facility, the Marin Computer Resource Center? Both recycle household electronics and give away free refurbished computers to schools, non-profit organizations, economically disadvantaged individuals and people with disabilities.

The refurbished computers use a free software GNU/Linux operating system that uses some different accessibility programs than the standard operating systems, so if you are looking for visual or mobility accessibility features such as screen readers, magnification, keyboard modifiers or voice recognition, check out the Ubuntu Linux site with links and solutions on accessibility issues for Linux users.

The best part is both programs are eligible to all Californians – not limited to county residents. You will have to pay for the shipping of the computer if you can’t pick it up, but it shouldn’t run much more than $35. You can find the application on their website – wait times vary based on demand and donations.

Furthermore, ACCRC and MCRC are always looking for donations of older computers or other electronics for their training program that teaches volunteers to refurbish computers and recycle old electronics. California's Electronic Waste Recycling Act makes it free to recycle your monitors and TVs (CRTs) at no charge. In fact, you can recycle printers, VCRs, stereos, phones, microwaves, toaster ovens, blenders, and coffee-makers and more, plus all of their accessories – working or not, they will take it. 


If you have AT-related question, contact the AT Network's Information and Referral line at 800-390-2699 or info@atnet.org.

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