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Volunteering through Research

An incredible opportunity to learn about special education.

Overview

Never forget the end-user! When in academia it can be easy to delve into research and lose track of your target audience. During my last year at McMaster Univeristy I was granted permission to pause my research and seek volunteering experience with blind elementary and high school students. By utlizing my network I built my own month-long volunteering adventure to learn about blindness in the public schooling system with an amazing group of educators.

Where did I go?

Two unique school boards.

First, I shadowed Ms. Valerie Kitazaki from the York Region District School Board and attended weekly public school visits with her students. Learning about braille rooms and hands-on literacy and O&M (Orientation and Mobility). Like the Perkins Brailler in the picture below ...

Girl using Perkins Brailler Source: https://www.pathstoliteracy.org/blog/why-should-i-care-about-learning-braille

Second, I spent a handful of times at the W. Ross Macdonald School which specializes in education for children with visual disability. A wonderful campus that welcomed me with open arms!

What did I bring back?

A new perspective on the capabilities of my end-users. Explained in my thesis, these students have strengths that can be leveraged in order to maximize their user experience. These range from memorization skills to speed of hearing, and other unique skills. s These first-hand encounters are the building blocks for developments of SerpUI.

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