You’re Never Too Old for Transliteracy: Virginia and Her iPad

CNET puts the spotlight on how the iPad is more than just “shiny” with this story of Virginia Campbell, a 99 year old woman in Lake Oswego, Oregon, who is using her iPad to once again enjoy reading and share her poetry.    Ms. Campbell, who suffers glaucoma that impacts her vision, is once again able to interact with the written word and to compose her own verses.

While this story does not involve a library, it speaks to the possibilities of how circulating devices like an iPad can transform the lives and literacy practices of our elderly patrons, particularly those who cannot afford these devices. What if libraries even offered “home delivery” to patrons who are shut in and may not physically be able to come to the library to check out an iPad?

You can read more about Virginia’s story here and see the video below:

Breaking Down Barriers in Communication

CC image used courtesy of BookMama

When sharing or communicating information most of us take for granted how easy it is to see the content, hear the audio, or tell another person what we have learned. Most of us never give a second thought to how this simple act might affect people with disabilities trying to disseminate information or share content. Thankfully with advances in technology these limitations no longer pose the hurdles and roadblocks they once did.

Libraries have always been early adapters for this portion of the community to provide access for people with different abilities through assistive technology and staff interaction. The very basic and beginning services such as having a staff member who can communicate through ASL, Braille collections, Braille transcription services, special playback equipment for use with recorded cassettes, books and magazines on recorded cassettes, Audiobooks, descriptive videos (DVS) Large Print materials, Mail-A-Book programs, and request lists for library customers that are accepted by mail, phone, fax, and e-mail. for the homebound are great examples of this.

Technology has started to add to these existing services in ways that we could have only dreamed of 20 or even 2 years ago. Now we have screen readers like JAWS (Job Access With Speech) and the speech function on Gale (listen to an example). Efforts are being taken to create more services like Access Keys for the Omeka archives, creating screencasts, adding closed captioning to videos on Youtube and Vimeo, the use of image services like Flickr and Picasa, and even more innovative devices like the EyeWriter initiative.

Take the time to learn the resources that your library offers this portion of the community and expand upon them. Remember that is our duty to connect people with information and help them convey what they have learned no matter the medium.

Henry Jenkins: Fandom, Literacy, and Scholarship

Reading, writing, and understanding words on a page won’t cut it anymore. In a digitized world, Henry says young people need new skills that go way beyond basic composition and comprehension. Skills like play (“the capacity to experiment with one’s surroundings as a form of problem-solving”), collective intelligence (“the ability to pool knowledge and compare notes with others toward a common goal”), and transmedia navigation (“the ability to follow the flow of stories and information across multiple modalities”).
~Henry Jenkins~

Read this April 16 article at Boing Boing in which Henry Jenkins discusses the relationship between fandom and literacy:

Wired – Clive Thompson on the New Literacy

You often here people bemoaning what Twitter and texting are doing to our writing skills and language.  This article from Wired magazine offers a different perspective. It quotes Andrea Lunsford, a professor of writing and rhetoric at Stanford University:

“I think we’re in the midst of a literacy revolution the likes of which we haven’t seen since Greek civilization,” she says. For Lunsford, technology isn’t killing our ability to write. It’s reviving it—and pushing our literacy in bold new directions.

Lunsford collected 14,672 student writing samples from 2001 to 2006 —”everything from in-class assignments, formal essays, and journal entries to emails, blog posts, and chat sessions” and analyzed them.

The first thing she found is that young people today write far more than any generation before them. That’s because so much socializing takes place online, and it almost always involves text.

An interesting observation on writing in general.

Before the Internet came along, most Americans never wrote anything, ever, that wasn’t a school assignment. Unless they got a job that required producing text (like in law, advertising, or media), they’d leave school and virtually never construct a paragraph again.

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