Hello, welcome to Friday. I can’t believe that we are already into the month of November and before we know it the holidays will be upon us. Friday is my favorite day of the week because it means that another edition of Fedora Outlier’s Follow Friday interview series is available for all to read. Who have I chosen to interview? Well, you will just have to continue reading to find out.
For the majority of the blind, low vision and even deaf-blind, using a computer or an iDevice is a very important life line that allows the individual to lead a productive independent life such as their sighted peers.
However, when it comes to accessible technology, learning how to use a screen reader or an iDevice such as an iPhone or iPad is not as easy as it might sound. It can be, to some, quite difficult.
That is why, it is important to find a company or organization that is willing to take the time to teach the blind, low vision or deaf-blind, how to use accessible technology. CCVIP, this week’s Follow Friday guest, is doing just that. They are teaching the blindness community how to use accessible technology by offering various teaching methods for a variety of different platforms.
Join me now, as I talk with CCVIP.
Brie Rumery: For readers who may not have heard of CCVIP, would you please tell us a little bit about your organization?
CCVIP: CCVIP is the Computer Center for Visually Impaired People. We operate through Baruch College which is part of the City University of New York (CUNY). CCVIP was established in 1978 and has been training people with vision impairments on how to use computers and other types of technology ever since. Our motto is “Access your computer and access the world.” We currently offer programs in the use of the Microsoft Office Suite as well as on various Apple products and other types of desktop and portable technologies. We also offer web usability testing, scripting services, Employment and Entrepreneurship coaching and a Demo Center where people can come and experience the technology that is available to the blind community first hand. We also offer an annual conference on employment and vision loss that is going on its 7th year.
BR: How can CCVIP help the blind/visually impaired when it comes to computer training?
CCVIP: We work with people at every point on the vision impairment spectrum and have worked with students as young as 9 and as old as 96. CCVIP is all about lifelong learning and we are here to support the needs of our students at every stage of life. We work with people who need technology for work or for school as well as for their personal leisure time. Our goal is to empower our students to get the most out of their technology.
BR: Who established CCVIP and why?
CCVIP: CVIP was established by Baruch College in the late 1970’s because we saw the opportunity in enabling people with vision impairments to use computer technology. Through computer technology the playing field between blind/visually impaired people and sighted counterparts levels off. Through assistive technology, visually impaired people have the access and ability to complete specific tasks and achieve a level of productivity in any setting that was not as readily available to them before the development of personal computing.
BR: Why is it important for CCVIP to offer various ways of teaching technology to the blind?
CCVIP: The blindness community encompasses a huge spectrum of visual capability. We need to be adaptable so that all of our students can be supported. As I have said earlier, we have worked with people between the ages of 9 and 96 with varying degrees of vision loss. We offer training using magnification products to those who can use it effectively. We also offer training using magnification technology with speech as well as screen reading assistive technology. We try to tailor the training for each individual. We offer individualized instruction, but even in our classrooms, we have a tutor for every three students in the class in addition to the main instructor. Our students receive the attention and support from our staff that will allow them to succeed in our classes and beyond.
BR: Does CCVIP receive a great deal of requests for Web Usability Testing or Scripting?
CCVIP: We receive a fair share of these types of requests and have worked with and consulted for some large institutions both in the New York City area as well as some on a national scale.
BR: What type of technology research, if any, is CCVIP involved in?
CCVIP: CCVIP was part of the creation of the Talking Tactile Tablet in conjunction with Touch Graphics, a product that was created for use in educational settings. We have participated in projects such as one creating accessible wayside exhibits at the Grand Canyon National Park. We are also involved in some other research projects that we are not at liberty to discuss at this time.
BR: Do most of your consumers want to learn how to use screen readers or are they more interested in learning how to use iOS devices?
CCVIP: We have lots of interest in all platforms and all types of assistive technology, including screen readers and magnification technology. At this time, the majority of our students are engaged in learning the Microsoft Office Suite on a Windows PC with their choice of assistive technology. We definitely also have lots of interest in iOS and provide a good amount of training on this platform as well, though not as high as that on the PC.
BR: Why does CCVIP feel the need to use Twitter as one of their social media platforms?
CCVIP: CCVIP is aware of increasing use of social media such as Twitter, and felt that our presence in the social media world was very necessary. It is a wonderful way to learn about new developments in assistive technology and accessibility as well as a good way to share about what we are doing. We have also created courses on the use of social media platforms with assistive technology in mind, so that our students can also join in on the fun.
I want to thank CCVIP for taking time to talk with me this week. For more information about CCVIP, please visit their website at http://www.baruch.cuny.edu/ccvip and feel free to add them to your followers on Twitter @ccvip.
Did you know that the entire team at Fedora Outlier, LLC is either blind or visually impaired? Well, they are.
That’s why the Fedora Outlier, LLC team is passionate about providing the best teaching experience to all of our clients both young and old. We provide a long list of services and resources to the blind, low vision and deaf-blind communities and it is our goal at Fedora Outlier, LLC to go above and beyond our limits when it comes to providing our clients with the best teaching experience. Take the time to visit Fedora’s website. Who knows, you might just see something you like!