Hello. I’m Carren Jenkins, Director of Teaching and Curriculum. I’m the newest member of the Fedora Outlier team.
You may remember me as Carren Hack from BLVS (Blind and Low Vision Services of North Georgia), where I taught computer classes to other blind people. I got married in 2004 and changed my name to Carren Jenkins. I have enjoyed being a stay-at-home mom to our son Caleb and daughter Grace since 2005, but now that Grace is starting preschool in the fall, I thought it was time to go back to teaching.
I was diagnosed with atypical RP (Retinitis Pigmentosa) when I was 7. I lost some peripheral vision in my left eye and lost some central vision in my right eye. I took Orientation and Mobility classes from CVI (Center for the Visually Impaired) in Atlanta, Georgia. I earned a B.A. in English from Wingate University in 1999.
After graduating college, I interned at GARRS (Georgia Radio Reading Service) as morning board operator and was their first intern to become an employee. In 1999, I started a company called braille-it! to transcribe documents into braille using Duxbery software and an embosser. I also taught clients how to use a computer with JAWS. In October of 2001, I started the computer program at BLVS, (now known as VRS or Vision Rehabilitation Services of Georgia), where I taught over 200 people how to use Windows, JAWS, ZoomText, Connect OutLoud, Internet Explorer, Word, Excel, and Outlook. It was such a joy watching people learn new things.
I learned how to use a computer on an Apple IIc. When my vision got worse, I switched to a PC with JAWS. I’m glad I learned how to use Windows so I could teach it to others, but I was so excited to get an iPhone and a Mac in 2010. Now I have an iPad Mini, too. It’s so amazing to me how Apple builds accessibility into their products. When I bought my iPhone 5, an Apple Store employee showed me how to use VoiceOver. For the first time, I could setup a phone by myself. I was so impressed by this, I wanted to teach other people how to use the iPhone, iPad, and Mac using VoiceOver.
I searched for companies that teach blind people how to use Apple devices with VoiceOver and that’s when I found Fedora Outlier. I was amazed to learn how VaShaun Jones had started Fedora Outlier LLC with a great team and other blind and low vision team members who are passionate like me to teach others how to use Apple devices and how this service will open up so many doors for endless possibilities of how a blind or low vision user can use their phone, iPad or computer with their Assistive Technology built in and can start using the product like their sighted friends and family. I am excited to join them and experience the joy of learning new things from more clients.