<![CDATA[Greetings! I'm Scott Savoy and ah yes! September is here and soon my favourite season will be upon us. How much I enjoy the fall but it does not mean that I do not enjoy a sunny summer as well. This week, I am pleased to present you with an editorial written by our president Donna J. Jodhan and today, Donna centers her attention on distance learning for the blind. I wish you a great holiday weekend. +++++++++++++++ Distance learning for the blind By Donna J. Jodhan Call it a double edged sword; but distance learning for the blind can be viewed in two very different ways. On the one hand, it could open up tons of doors of opportunity for blind persons but on the other hand, it could pose new challenges for those who are afflicted with vision challenges. In general, distance learning has helped to make education much more available and accessible to those living in remote areas, to those who have difficulty attending physical classes, and to those who are unable to afford the luxury of travelling from their homelands to developed countries. A great boon and a bridging of the gap for millions and distance learning is definitely growing in popularity. For those who are blind and sight impaired, distance can be described as a double edged sword. On the one hand, yes, it makes education more available to these persons but when the websites that offer these courses are not accessible, or when the software being used by the distance learning providers are not compatible with the access technology being used by the blind and sight impaired student, here is where the barriers are. In addition, when the website designers and developers are unable to grasp the meaning of accessibility, blind and sight impaired students have to go the extra mile to explain their environment. It is my experience that in several cases, there is a mixed bag when it comes to how the professors and tutors view the whole subject of accessibility. That is, making it possible for blind and sight impaired students to pursue distance learning. It should be easier for blind and sight impaired students to be able to access electronic texts but fairly often, this is sadly not the case. I'd like to suggest some tips for anyone who is reading this. Electronic texts need to be made available in a format that could be read by blind and sight impaired students. These students use screen reading and magnification software to read. Blind students who use screen reading software need to be able to access textual formats; they are unable to read images, graphics, and icons. Texts in word and RTF or TXT formats are preferable. Websites should be designed so that blind and sight impaired students can interact with them independently; without having to seek sighted assistance. Forms should be designed so that blind and sight impaired students can complete them independently; without sighted help. Of course there are other things that I can suggest but for now I think it is a good start. I'm Donna J. Jodhan wishing you a terrific day and weekend. To reach me, please send an email to email@example.com and I would be delighted to send you an electronic copy of our latest newsletter. Here is a complete list of where you can view Donna's blogs and editorials. Donna Jodhan! Advocating accessibility for all http://www.donnajodhan.blogspot.com Weekly features on how to increase your success with your business ventures http://www.sterlingcreations.com/businessdesk.htm Weekly articles and editorials on issues about accessibility http://www.sterlingcreations.ca/blog A monthly editorial on issues on diversity http://www.diversityintheworkplace.ca]]>
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- Artificial or attitude? I am still trying to figure this one out and I have to admit that I may never be able to do so. This so-called artificial/attitude barrier has been around much longer than I and this is what it is. Too often, whenever someone with a disability is accompanied by either a friend or family member, they are asked if the accompanying person is a care giver. Recently, I was asked this same question when my friend accompanied me to a lab to have some tests done. The lab technician could not seem to stop herself in asking this question and she was very surprised when both my friend and I said in unison that we were friends. Why should she have been surprised? Was it that she along with so many others around us really do not expect us to have friends who accompany us to appointments? Or is it that they think we need care givers to escort us? Or is it simply that they just do not know what to ask? I do my best to be patient but sometimes I become frustrated and simply tell them that I do not need a care giver. Or I may just turn the question back to them and ask why do they think that my escort is my care giver? 99% of the time there is no response. One of my favourite memories is the day when my mom accompanied me to a pre op appointment and the medical assistant asked if mom was my nurse! On this occasion I could not help but burst into peals of laughter. My mom was speechless! After taking a-hold of myself I gently told the medical assistant that she was my mom; not my nurse. And very recently my friend and I accompanied my mom to the dentist and lo and behold! They thought my friend was a care giver and asked me for her phone number. When I told the staff that she was not our care giver but our friend they were shocked but at least had the manners to apologize. Just my two cents for today. Image: Five blue accessibility logos, hearing impaired, sign language, wheelchair, restroom with wheelchair and guide dog. To learn more about me as a sight loss coach visit www.donnajodhan.com
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