Recycled Computers Offered to Disabled | Frank E. Owens


The Independence First computer recycling program helps the disabled by allowing them to click into the world of websites.

Those with disabilities have been waiting for this for a long time and so many have signed on to the program that the waiting list has reached 100. 

Independence First only rehabs about 15 a week, so the waiting period can stretch out for 3-4 months. 

Tom Uyehara, director of the Independence First IT department, has been with the recycling effort since its beginning in 2002. The program was begun by Lee Scholz, executive director of Independence First, who had a vision to help people with disabilities bridge the digital gap.

“People with disabilities traditionally cannot afford PCs or iPads or whatever it took to get on the Internet like smart phones.”  Uyehara said.

The minimum requirement for donated computers: Pentium III Processor, 256 MB RAM memory, 850 MHz, 17 inch monitors and laptops in working or non-working conditions.

Our ability to accommodate those with a disability depends “upon how robust that PC is,“ said Uyehara.

The program redistribution process is based on a first come first served basis, unless a donor has made special arrangements on who gets the computer.  

Independence First Is licensed by Microsoft and has to follow its rules and regulations and licensing requirements.

The work of recycling and wiping the hard drives is done mostly by volunteers from colleges and institutions like Milwaukee Area Technical College and ITT Tech. These students come to Independence First to gain field experience.

The need for volunteers is greater than the need for computers because computers are piling up.

One request from Uyehara: Those who receive these refurbished computers should return them to Independence First “instead of giving it to an aunt or uncle or just throwing it away.” | UV


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