It’s time for another blog entry and after posting my previous one it got me thinking about what I do. I moved from the PATINS Central Site Coordinator position that I held for 17 years to become the ICAM (Indiana Center for Accessible Materials) Technology Coordinator just less than a year ago. It has been a year of learning the details of what happens when a student qualifies for digital print materials and how we get it to them. As a site coordinator I would troubleshoot with the Digital Rights Managers as how to use the technology they needed to open files like NIMAS, ePubs, PDF, etc. for use with their students. My current position offers me the opportunity to get the digital content from the publishers, the NIMAC (National Instructional Materials Accessibility Center), Learning Ally among other sources. I also process orders and still offer technical assistance when needed, which is often, but hey that’s the job and I like a good challenge now and then.
If you read my first post, “Mimi, would you read this to me?” you know my confession, but more importantly it was about how crucial it is for children especially young children to be read to.
Sometimes things come full circle and I’ll explain. We had a family vacation not long ago to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We have been there 4 times before and last year my wife thought it would be worth trying an audiobook for the drive so she downloaded the first chapter of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I’ll be honest again, but driving through the mountains of Virginia at night and trying to concentrate on the road was much more than I had in mind. Needless to say it was over before chapter two. She wanted to try it again this year, but had planned to do a couple of chapters when the stress of driving was minimal. Together we worked at logging on to our local library, downloading the Overdrive app on her iPhone and selecting an audiobook. The process was relatively easy. The audiobook that we chose was The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown. Once on our way and traffic tolerable, we popped the auxiliary jack into her phone and started with the Preface. I have always enjoyed sports through participation or observing, but never thought of just listening to what was being described. For the first time in a long time it was enjoyable. The anticipation of the next chapter was figuratively and literally just around the corner. We listened to half of book on the way there and the other half on the way back. I know what you’re thinking, why did you wait a whole week to finish the book? Again, it was anticipation for me. It was something to look forward to during the boring part of the drive.
I opened this blog with what my job description is in a nutshell, but this experience was one that the students with a print disability and even those that don’t experience every day. It was a glimpse for me to walk in their shoes if only through one book and to really feel what I have been a part of over so many years had come to fruition.
There are many “tools” for supporting access to digital content and selecting one or two might seem like a daunting task, but the PATINS Project and ICAM staff can help with making that easier with the right background information. It’s not your quest for gold, but it is for your students.