Hey Google: Look at what Google + has done for our Hearing Impaired Learners!

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We integrated Google Apps in mid-2009, amid some skepticism of how this would fit into our Literacy program.  The benefits were immediate and palpable.  Not only did we now have a unified email handle, we now had communication and collaboration at our fingertips.  It wasn’t long before Google became a normal part of our program.

Now, to give you a bit of background on our program, Sioux-Hudson Literacy Council runs 4 programs: the Literacy and Basic Skills program, the Sioux Lookout and Hudson Learning Centres, and our online program, Good Learning Anywhere.  We have many unique and, I think, wonderful opportunities for adult learners, both locally and province-wide.
While I work with the Good Learning Anywhere program, instructing and developing learning materials for our learners across Ontario, I am lucky enough to also live in Hudson, which allows me to connect with the people and communities of northern Ontario.
So, now that you know a bit about our program and me, you’re probably wondering, so what’s this Google+ thing, and how do the hearing impaired mix into this.
If you haven’t heard of Google+, here’s a cute video to introduce you to Google’s new venture.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hC_M6PzXS9g&w=560&h=315]

Though we haven’t quite made the leap as an organization, our learners are apparently at the head of the trend!
 
Well, just this past week, I was meeting with Jonathan Baum, our fearless program coordinator.  We were talking about apps for literacy and how we can best introduce  those to our learners.  He started telling me about a group of learners that have been attending our centre for years, who are hearing impaired.  To accommodate their needs, we installed oovoo, a great video conferencing tool.
The learners used this tool to sign to people across the world.  The only hitch was that this wasn’t a free service.  As anyone who works in literacy knows, money doesn’t grow on trees.  But, Jonathan felt this was an important tool to have available for our learners.

Now, with the arrival of video chat in Google +, our learners have ditched oovoo, and have adopted Google + as their main communication tool.  Without paying a dime, these learners can sign with multiple people in different parts of the world.  What an awesome gift to our program and to our learners.

So, Google, thank you.  Keep on innovating and sharing!

Author: admin

5 Responses to "Hey Google: Look at what Google + has done for our Hearing Impaired Learners!"

  1. Gary
    Gary Posted on January 25, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    “Hearing Impaired?” Whatever happened to the more respectful “Deaf and hard-of-hearing?” (the tab order of this form is incorrect, btw)

  2. Kevin Cole
    Kevin Cole Posted on January 25, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    P.S. If you don’t like the timing on my subtitles, or want to add other language translations (or have other videos that you wish were captioned), sign up on the Universal Subtitles site and have at it.

  3. Kevin Cole
    Kevin Cole Posted on January 25, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Blast! It apparently doesn’t let me include a link in the comments. So, my first (and third) replies are gone, making the P.S. make less sense.

    Third try: I’ve improved the captions on the video using the Universal Subtitler. (Search the web for universalsubtitles, since I apparently cannot include a URL.) If you want the direct link to the improved captions, send me an e-mail.

  4. Sandra Turner
    Sandra Turner Posted on January 25, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    Hi Gary:
    If you are hard-of-hearing, and I have given offence, please accept my apologies. With the ever-changing landscape of what is acceptable and what is disrespectful, it is difficult to know when one has made an error. Let me assure you, I did consult our hearing impaired learners as to what term I can use. I do hope that beyond that, others that may be hearing-impaired, deaf or hard-of-hearing, will be introduced to a wonderful, low-cost communication tool.

    ….and thanks for reading:)

  5. Sandra Turner
    Sandra Turner Posted on January 25, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    Hi Kevin: I would love to hear what you have to say! If you would like to, please contact me at sandra@siouxhudsonliteracy.com. Thanks for reading:)