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:
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.
The constantly changing environment of information consumption, interpretation, and sharing is far more reaching into our lives than most think. It is no longer enough to master the basic skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic (the three Rs) in order to advance in your education and career. We are moving into what some are calling the four Cs to become equipped for the workplace. Critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, and creativity and innovation are becoming even more important to organizations in the future according to a new survey conducted by American Management Association (AMA).
According to the AMA 2010 Critical Skills Survey, these skills and competencies are already priorities within their organizations for employee development. In all actuality, they said that employees are measured on these skills within their annual performance evaluations and are factored in during the hiring process. To help raise these levels companies are relying on one-on-one coaching and mentoring as ways to help advance employees’ skill sets, followed by professional development and training, in-house training, and job rotation.
Although at the moment management believe it is easier to develop these skills in students than it is to develop them in experienced workers , the report suggests that students and recent graduates are more open to new ideas, versus experienced workers with formed work patterns and habits.
This is why it is more important than ever to identify, acquire, and cultivate these abilities into your skill set. Not only to understand how to advance within work and education, but communicate in the rapidly evolving climate of information and understanding.
This week I shared two presentations in which I outline how libraries can function as sponsors of transliteracy. The first slidedeck was developed for a brief talk at Computers in Libraries 2010, and the second slidedeck is an expanded version delivered at a preconference session of the Alabama Library Association Annual Convention. This resource page, while geared for the initial talk, also provides support for the second slidedeck.