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Follow Friday With Lee Huffman Of Access World

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Happy Friday Everyone. I can hardly believe that Thanksgiving is only two weeks away. Are any of you planning to shop on Black Friday? Not me! I’ll be staying inside where it’s nice and warm catching up on some very necessary rest, relaxation, and reading. However, I am getting ahead of myself just a bit. Today is Friday, 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.

Are you wondering who are guest is this week? Well, keep reading and it will soon become clear to you who it is.

Our guest this week is the editor of a very popular monthly magazine entitled AccessWorld. The publication is a part of the American Foundation for the Blind and has been in circulation since 1999. The magazine is dedicated to providing information about accessible technology, resources about accessible products and services, articles on individuals and/or organizations that have made an impact within the blindness community and much, much more.

I first heard of AccessWorld many years ago before I even thought of being a part of an assistive technology firm and I have been an avid reader of it ever since. What is even better is that now the magazine is available on the iPhone and iPad, which means I can read it every month no matter where I am.

Take a few minutes out of your busy Friday, grab a cup of coffee or tea and join me as I talk with Lee Huffman, Editor of AccessWorld.

Brie Rumery: For those who may not know about AccessWorld, would you please tell us a little bit about this wonderful publication?

Lee Huffman: AccessWorld is the American Foundation for the Blind’s free, monthly, online, technology magazine that provides tech news for people with vision loss. Every month it provides readers with product reviews of both mainstream and access technology products. It evaluates office equipment, GPS devices, cell phones, both feature and smart phones, their access features, apps, and various mobile technologies. It evaluates access technologies such as electronic magnifiers, braille technologies, and note taking devices and apps.
The magazine also profiles leading companies, non-profit organizations, and prominent individuals in the field. Each year it has themed issues such as “Back to School,” “Employment,” and currently the “Holiday” issue. In the “Back to School” issue for example, our authors present information on how to discuss your accommodation needs with instructors, how to find your textbooks in accessible formats, and provide useful tips for taking notes in class using various devices such as the iPhone or iPad.
All AccessWorld issues are archived on our site and can be searched by using the “Back Issues” link to go to a previously published issue. A site visitor can also use the AccessWorld search tool to search for information we have published on a particular topic, such as the Android operating system.
There is something in AccessWorld for everyone with an interest in the field of vision loss. Readers of AccessWorld include: people with vision loss, their family and friends, teachers of the visually impaired, rehabilitation councilors, technology trainers, and manufacturers of mainstream and access technology.

BR: How long has AccessWorld been in publication, who started the magazine and how large is your staff?

LH: In 1999, the American Foundation for the Blind acquired the newsletter, TACTIC, from its Editor, Deborah Kendrick. It then became AccessWorld. The first Editor-in-Chief of AccessWorld was Paul Schroeder. Deborah Kendrick became, and remains the Senior Features Editor. From 2000 to 2004, AccessWorld was available, by subscription, in braille, large print, audio cassette, and online. By 2005, AccessWorld became an online only publication and dropped the subscription fee. We are happy to be able to provide the searchable information at no cost to thousands of people every month.
AccessWorld contributors include AFB employees and freelance authors. In addition to myself, AccessWorld currently has four AFB staff members who write for the publication, five freelance authors, and a Marshall University intern from its School of Journalism assists with daily production and editing tasks.

BR: Why is it important for AccessWorld to inform the blindness community about technology?

LH: In today’s society, technology is essential for education, employment, entertainment, and social interaction. For people who are blind or visually impaired, it is also essential for independence. The more information people with vision loss have about the technology that is available, the better they can make decisions about which technology will best meet their particular needs.
We at AccessWorld believe the information we share can empower individuals and help them make informed choices when it comes to selecting technology to incorporate into their lives. This is a responsibility the staff and I take very seriously.

BR: Why is it important for the blindness community to advocate for “born accessible” products and services?

LH: Manufacturers and service providers need to take all consumers in mind when creating products; that includes people with vision loss.
Not only is it good business, quite often it is the law. Above both of those, it is the right thing to do.

BR: What resources does AccessWorld use in regards to finding content for the publication every month?

LH: Each month AccessWorld contributors meet to discuss content options for upcoming issues. On a regular basis, we all attend national conferences and meetings related to technology and issues of importance to people with vision loss. We all belong to professional organizations and are involved with online forums and discussion groups related to technology, legislative policy, education, and employment.
Through these contacts we generate ideas and have relationships with manufacturers who, in most cases, provide the technology for us to review.

BR: When it comes to education, why is it important for the blind/low vision student to have access to accessible technology?

LH: Without access to technology, a student who is blind or who has low vision is at a distinct disadvantage when compared to a sighted peer. However, with the right technology and accessible educational materials, students with vision loss can have the opportunity to learn and excel in the same classroom alongside their sighted peers. Technology and accessible materials provide the “level playing field” you hear so much about.

BR: As Editor of AccessWorld, has there ever been a time when you regretted posting a story, and if so, why?

LH: I have been the Editor-in-Chief of AccessWorld since July 2010, and to date, I have never regretted posting an article. I receive a good bit of feedback from readers, which I encourage, and that helps the AccessWorld team and me pretty much stay in touch with what readers want, and don’t want to read. The authors and I do our best to be fair and objective in our writing and that usually keeps us in good standing with our readers.

BR: What are some of the major benefits a reader can expect from AccessWorld?

LH: AccessWorld readers receive current, usable information about mainstream and access technology products. They stay informed about access issues, accomplishments, and set-backs. Ultimately, AccessWorld readers find the information they need to make decisions about technology that can impact their lives in a positive way.

I want to thank Lee Huffman, Editor of AccessWorld for taking time out of his busy schedule to sit down and talk with me this week. I strongly urge that you support the endeavors of the American Foundation for the Blind and its free monthly magazine AccessWorld.

To learn more about the American Foundation for the Blind you can visit their web site at http://www.afb.org, you can also add their @afb1921 to your Twitter followers list and you can search for Access World on Twitter by using (hash tag) #AccessWorld.

The knowledge the blindness community gains through publications such as AccessWorld is only one reason why Fedora Outlier supports AccessWorld and all of the hard work that is done on a continuous basis through organizations such as the American Foundation for the Blind. Fedora tips their hat off to you for making an impact with the blindness community.

Fedora Outlier, LLC is a nationally recognized assistive technology firm that provides Apple consulting, teaching and support. All team members are blind or low vision and are committed to providing the best learning experience to all of its clients. Do you need to learn how to use an Apple iOS device? Is it necessary for you to be able to teach a blind, low vision or deaf-blind individual and lack the skills to do so? Are you planning on switching from a Windows to a Mac computer? If you answered yes to these questions then please visit Fedora Outlier, LLC to see how we can help you gain the necessary tools and knowledge to be a success!