On Tuesday, June 27, 2017, the Transition Academy (“TA”) took a field trip to the Georgia Library for Accessible Statewide Services (GLASS), located in Downtown Atlanta. When the class first arrived, we were greeted warmly by Beverly, the manager of GLASS. We were there to learn about services provided as well as observe and investigate various careers to consider at the library. They allowed us to bring our coolers full of food and drinks for lunch as well as talk and laugh right there in the library.
GLASS employees (Jason, Diane and Vanessa) volunteered to show us different functions of the library program. In reply, the Transition Academy participants greeted our hosts by talking about our unique visual impairments and life experiences. In turn, we learned that our GLASS instructors also have their own vision disorders and utilize multiple tools to perform their job duties and tasks.
The Transition class split into groups to conduct informational interviews with each employee and perform some job shadowing. The day began with Jason, who oversees the BARD program. BARD allows those who are visually impaired to access alternatively-formatted editions of their favorite books, by converting them into MP3 and Daisy audio files. Jason mentioned that he could also download books straight to a patron’s cartridge or flash drive from a separate hard drive without relying on the BARD software. He even used his desktop to demonstrate how Bookshare can also convert text files into braille and audio formats.
Next, Diane demonstrated how she reviews the GLASS service applications utilizing a CCTV magnifier due to her own visual impairment. Diane makes certain every applicant provides proof that they are blind, deaf, or otherwise physically disabled, because parents and teachers sometimes attempt to get their non-impaired students enrolled in GLASS, just to help them make it through school; taking away resources from those who genuinely need them. Lastly, Vanessa taught everyone how to use CROSS- an interlibrary loan system- by allowing them to process some book order forms.
During lunch, Skylar interviewed Xavier Yancy for the Participant of the Week section of the TA blog. Xavier is a rising freshman at Sprayberry High School, who learns best by observing others. Xavier also has a passion for drawing and hopes to someday attend an Art College. Though he doesn’t know what he hopes to attain by attending the Transition Academy, Xavier’ working goal is to eventually become a professional cartoonist.
After lunch, we explored the Tactile Exploration Area and played with the braille wall, while we had some free time. Finally, the TA participants showed their gratitude to Beverly and the other volunteers, by rolling up their sleeves and putting together some GLASS information packets.