Since I signed up for the Post A Week challenge, every day WordPress emails me prompts and today’s was, What one piece of technology can you not live without?
Up until this week, I would have said the laminator, which was the Eid gift Umm Sprout picked for herself and which we all feel marks the official beginning of homeschooling for the Young Sprout.
Now that the Egyptian government has shut down internet, cell phones, and land lines, I would have to say Skype. With Abu Sprout’s parents there we are in touch on a daily basis. Now no one can get through, news crews are unable to gather information, and it’s a big black hole. We just have to have faith.
Several years ago when Umm Sprout was in grade school our then family survived a major ice storm which left millions of people with no electricity. We were lucky that ours was only off for five days and that we had a natural gas fireplace and stove. But that was at least man against nature; this is man against man and much harder to accept.
So to me the most important technology is everything that connects us and lets ordinary people share what is really happening, be it Mounties Tasering an immigrant to death, tanks mowing down peaceful protesters in Tian An Min Square, or any other abuse of human rights.
Studies have shown that captioned videos can help children read better. Captioning is also a huge help to non-native speakers of English.
In the U.S. ADA mandates that all television be closed captioned, and that sets contain the chip to display the captions. However the internet, which was heralded as the great equalizer between the hearing and Deaf communities, has no such regulation, so it’s becoming increasingly inaccessible to the Deaf.
I only found out in the last few minutes that YouTube has a way to caption videos that you are posting. Deaf Pagan’s post describes how to do it and discusses the limitations of voice recognition software. Having spent years learning court reporting with a steno machine, I’m well aware of that, but most people have an overly optimistic belief in voice recognition.
A great project for older homeschoolers: make a YouTube video, caption it, and then watch it with the captions. This would reinforce literacy skills and help them empathize with the Deaf and hard of hearing. It’ll be a while before Young Sprout is ready to caption. If anyone else tries this, please let us know!
Disclaimer: Need to make it clear I’m advocating for captioning and other accessibility aids for the differently abled, and this posting is NOT any kind of endorsement of paganism, in case you were wondering.