Virginia County Recruits Employees For Hands-On DTV Aid

County seeks help for seniors and the disabled
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Fairfax County, VA, is asking its employees to volunteer to help senior citizens and the disabled make the transition to digital TV.

According to a notice from its public affairs office, the county's Department of Family Services agency on aging has put out the call for help in the run-up to the Feb. 17, 2009 switch to full-power digital TV.

"People with analog TVs must install a converter box, subscribe to cable or purchase a new digital set to continue watching TV," the agency told employees in an e-mail Thursday. "Some older adults and adults with disabilities may have difficulty with this, particularly with installing a converter box."

That DTV assistance will qualify for the up to 16 hours of annual paid leave employees get for volunteer efforts.

The FCC is pushing for more hands-on help in the digital transition. For example, it contracted with firefighters to respond to cries for DTV help in Wilmington, N.C., which made the analog switch early, and is looking to partner with other grass-roots organizations to help those who are "home-bound or with limited mobility."

Seniors and the disabled are two of the populations targetted for special help with the transition.

"We applauad Fairfax County for providing such a valuable public service," said Shermaze Ingram, spokeswoman for the National Association of Broadcasters DTV education effort. "Older Americans and people with disabilities are among those most affected, or who will be disproportionately affected, by the DTV transition.

"This is an outstanding example of how local governments can play an important role in insuring that these households do not lose access to television after the transition."