Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Recommended Website: Deaf Scientist Corner

I stumbled across this web site, “Deaf Scientist Corner”, created by the Texas Woman’s University of Denton, Texas.

This web site profiles some past and recent famous / notable deaf scientists, which can serve as a role model for teens undecided about careers and budding deaf scientists. The site contains a summaries of famous / significant deaf in the technology and science fields: Such as some well known famous deaf scientists and inventors, such as Weitbrecht- the phone coupler - a.k.a. the TTY inventor, and Thomas Edison - the incandescent bulb (light bulb).

Today technology has helped level the playing field for communication access within and outside of organizations and ones workplace. There are many current and future opportunities within the science and information technology fields. As some often say that future jobs have not been created yet, and are waiting to be discovered.

For instance, 25 years ago, who envisioned that web masters, bloggers, and working with relay services and video phones would become popular career fields using every day technologies. If you have you have the desire foot to work in the information technology and/or science fields, by staying current with trends and the needs of business and consumers, you can position yourself for future jobs that will be created.

Links and references to this web site was approved by Texas Woman's University.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Using VideoPhones: On-Line School Programs and Audio Conferences


You may have read or heard success stories using videophones to connect to family, friends, co-workers and make relay calls. Did you also know videophones are also useful for participating in audio conference presentations / calls if you are enrolled in an online course/degree program?

I'm currently enrolled as an on-line MBA student with the University of Maryland University College. This term has weekly presentations, demos and discussions with the professor and/or guest speakers. The length of the online sessions have ranged from anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours.

How it Works
I use my Z-340 to connect to the audio portion of on-line conference, which is hosted by the professor using a web-based conferencing software (Wimba). A laptop is used to connect to the web-based conference to view a PowerPoint presentation and/or web pages. Both a laptop and Z-340 are set beside each other at location that has a good Wi-Fi or LAN Internet connection.

In order to be able to call into a conference session that has audio, the speaker has to enable call-ins with a phone number and pin (depends on the web-conference software capabilities and options). When you call a ZVRS (or any other vrs) interpreter, tell them you are joining a conference call, when prompted, you can either enter the conference code/pin using your Z-340 keypad, or have the interpreter enter it for you.

Tip: Once in the call, have the interpreter and your laptop muted to prevent audio feedback. The interpreter can turn on his/her mike when you want to speak, or your microphone if you want to use voice carry over (vco) where you can speak for yourself.

If your professor plans to use / uses a web-based on-line presentation tool, I suggest conducting a trial call-in session beforehand so you both will know how it works before the actual scheduled meeting to ensure a trouble free conference.

At the beginning of the term, we had to consult with the software manual and vendor to figure out how to call into the conference since nearly everyone was initially relying on audio output from their computer speakers - which does not work for relay calls. After some research, it was found that Wimba’s capabilities does allow for audio call-ins with a phone number and pin - which was exactly what was needed to make this work for the weekly sessions.

Ironically, Wimba’s (and possibly other providers) documentation still references the use of a phone relay (TTY) service - which is obvious that the documentation is outdated but still relevant. You can use your preferred method of relay service to participate in on-line class audio sessions by videophone, TTY, or Internet/chat relay. However, the use of video relay services for audio conferences is said to be more efficient and quicker than by Internet/chat text or TTY relay.

Other Features

Some on-line web-conferencing tools may also have a small window feature for short chats - this allows meeting participants to ask questions and be responded to (if monitored and used by meeting moderator).

Photo: Z-340 and Mac on a call (screens simulated for confidentiality purposes), gives you the idea of participating in an on-line conference and use of a audio line.

Lastly, you are not limited to the laptop / Z-340 / ZVRS set up. If you have a wide-screen monitor you can have both the presentation and Z-4 (or other soft video phones) side by side on the screen. You can also use other vp devices or a preferred vrs provider, you can do pretty much the same thing, using your preferred tools. You will have to experiment and find what solution works best for you.

Donald Moore is a Freelance writer and blogger at http://Prosumertech.blogspot.com

He may be contacted by email at: mooredlm@gmail.com