Change Makers: A Podcast from APH

Annual Meeting Preview

September 23, 2021 American Printing House Episode 38
Change Makers: A Podcast from APH
Annual Meeting Preview
Show Notes Transcript

On this episode of Change Makers, we'll preview the upcoming Annual Meeting. We'll talk to an organizer and find out what participants can expect. We'll also learn about the completely redesigned Louis Database and check-in with the National Prison Braille Network.

Participants (In Order of Appearance)

  • Sara Brown, APH Public Relations Manager
  • Leanne Grillott, APH National Director of Outreach Services
  • Linda Turner, APH Digital Resources / Technical Services Manager
  • Jayma Hawkins, APH Prison Braille Senior Director

Additional Links

Jack Fox:

Welcome to change makers, a podcast from APH. We're talking to people from around the world who are creating positive change in the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired. Here's your host.

Sara Brown:

Hello and welcome to Change Makers. I'm APH is Public Relations Manager, Sara Brown . And today we're previewing the upcoming APH Annual Meeting. We'll talk to an organizer to find out what you can expect during the meeting. And we'll also learn about the completely redesigned Louie database and check in with the National Prison Braille Network. Up first, we have APH's National Director of Outreach Services, Leanne Grillott. Hello Leanne and welcome to Change Makers.

Leanne Grillott:

Hello, glad to be here.

Sara Brown:

So tell us what can we expect during this year's annual meeting?

Leanne Grillott:

Well, we definitely did our little hop, skip and jump into virtual again this year. Not that it's what we wanted. We really wanted to see everyone's smiling, faces give hugs and high fives, but to keep everyone safe, we went virtual again this year, we chose to stretch it so that it's over a group of multiple days. It's also only in the Eastern time zone afternoons. So there's definitely differences with that. We also took into account the things we learned from last year. So don't expect last year's conference. It's a new one. This is the time to gain knowledge, learn about our products, learn about our services, but then also to talk to one another.

Sara Brown:

Okay. And can you tell us a little bit what's new for attendees?

Leanne Grillott:

Always we have new products and new services. So this is the time you get to talk about them. Get a sneak peek at some of those, some that are still in the works, but you get a chance to talk to the people who are working on building those, and we have some new services coming into play. So those are some things to really think about now, something else we're really unique for this annual meeting, which we have never done before. As we are having regional connections, we are having a time in the second week where groups by their region will be able to get together with their ex-officio trustees, our support people at APH, and be able to learn a little bit more about who is in their region and what type of support and training is available for that region.

Sara Brown:

Wow , that's gonna be awesome. And it's just really helpful so people can learn who's in their region. So what, what are some of the sessions and topics that are on the docket for Annual Meeting?

Leanne Grillott:

Well, if you are interested at a dynamic, tactile display, well it's on its way to reality. I think as a teacher of students with visual impairments, we have always thought about this tablet of braille lines before, but we are actually working on making this a reality. And if you want to learn a little bit more about that and the process that's going into it, join us. It'll be great. Now, something else, if you haven't heard about poly , which is the gamification of braille learning while you're in for a trait , Polly is a really unique tool for our students getting ready to come out soon. So you'll hear a little bit more about that. Again, brand new. If you are a Louie fan, there has been a redesign for our Louie database for looking at textbooks. Guess what? You get to hear all about it at Annual Meeting. So those are just some of the sessions, but there'll be things for just about everyone, whether you're a college professor who wants to learn about what textbooks are getting ready to come out. If you are a Orientation and Mobility instructor, and you want to give your feedback on the products that we make and what products you'd like to see if you're a teacher of students with multiple disabilities and you want to give feedback about the Lightbox kits, one, two, and three, that we have, we're looking for that feedback. This is the time to make your voice heard, but then also hear what other people's ideas are.

Sara Brown:

Okay. And just in case anybody who does not know, tell us who, who can attend the Annual Meeting. Is it just for specific individuals or is it for everyone?

Leanne Grillott:

What's really interesting is Annual Meaning started out for our ex-officio trustees, a meeting it's a meeting. And usually you're invited to a specific meeting to attend. It has grown since then. And the idea of what we're bringing to something called a meeting, as we're surrounding a small piece of time, there is still a meeting that happens for ex-officio trustees, but we surround that with the educational components about the products and services. That's part of what APH has to do. We are to educate about what we have and the ex-officio trustees are just a small portion of the people who utilize what we have. So we invite the world. If you're a parent, if you're a teacher, you can even be a general education teacher. We welcome you with open arms. If a student wants to attend, we can't stop you from attending. Please join us again. This is an activity that we must do to educate.

Sara Brown:

And now when you register for the meeting I learned last year, which was my first Annual Meeting , there was the app, which I thought was super cool and so handy because it gave notifications that your session that you want to do attend is about to start. Can you tell us a little bit more about the app and just how convenient it is and um , what users can expect?

Leanne Grillott:

So the app is tied after you register. So you register in something called cvent. That's the platform that you register and it connects directly to an app called Crowd Compass. So once you make your selections of what activities you want to attend, you then have an app that you can either access on your phone, a tablet, a computer screen, the computer screen looks more like a website, but it's the same thing, has the same information. And you can get notifications. You can then use that tool to select the session and enter utilizing the virtual link that's available for you. There's actually a lot in there. You can read about the speakers. You can send messages to the speakers, but you can also find those other individuals who are attending annual meeting and say hi to them. If you are a college student and you want to make some connections with some of the professionals in different states , because you might be looking for a position there, you can start a message. Hey, are there any positions in New Mexico that I can apply to? So there's actually a lot more in there. I hope to see more utilization of the app this year, because hopefully people had a taste of it last year.

Sara Brown:

Okay. I really enjoyed it. I thought that was really awesome to have this really nice and convenient. It's so handy and convenient. Now, is there anything else you'd like to mention about Annual Meeting?

Leanne Grillott:

I would say one of the things we did is we learned from last year, last year was our first virtual conference. And so we are doing things a different. One of the things that's really big is we definitely broke it up. We kept mostly meat and potatoes. We are trying to really give you the content. There are still going to be some of those normal feel , good things like the insights, art contest or the hall of fame induction. We have a few little new little pieces coming in there. We have awards, APH awards that we are giving out, and we haven't done that for awhile . And we're going to do it for the first time again this year. So realize that there's going to be a break between each session. That's really important. We all need to get up and stretch. We hope you do. And there is a section during the second week where we are really looking for your voice for the product showcase and the services showcase our ideas to provide you with knowledge, but then seek your feedback. We need to know, is this a product that works for you? Is this a service that's providing help for your students? Is there something missing that you want from APH or is this something we need to tweak and make this a little bit better? We really do need your voice. It is part of the role of annual meeting. We already get advice from our ex-officio trustees, but we need those boots on the ground too. So we are for that. So that's something a little bit different.

Sara Brown:

Thank you so much, Leanne , for joining us on Change Makers

Leanne Grillott:

Are very welcome and I hope to see all of our audience at Annual Meeting in a few weeks.

Sara Brown:

Okay. Thank you. Next we're going to learn about the much needed changes to the Louie Database. We have APH's Digital Resources and Technical Services Manager, Linda Turner. Hello, Linda, and welcome to Change Makers.

Linda Turner:

Hi Sara. Thanks for having meal.

Sara Brown:

Tell us what's going on with the Louis Database? I hear there's some exciting changes coming along?

Linda Turner:

Yes, we are very excited that the Louis Database of accessible material is getting a completely redesigned website, making it easier for our users to fund braille, large print and electronic textbooks and recreational reading materials for students who are blind and visually impaired.

Sara Brown:

How has this change and improvement from the previous layout?

Linda Turner:

Well, it would be great for Louis to take advantage of new technology to streamline and update the interface and improve search functionality by adding filters and an advanced search feature. We want to make the new website faster, easier to navigate more user-friendly and completely accessible for our users.

Sara Brown:

Have all these changes taken effect as of today? They have not taken effect yet. We don't have a definitive launch date yet, but we plan on starting user testing in October. We hope to go lab before the end of the year. And how can someone find the new and improved Louie Database?

Linda Turner:

The Louie website is located at louis.aph.org in the same site that it currently is located.

Sara Brown:

Okay. And is there anything else you'd like to add about this redesigned database?

Linda Turner:

Okay . The APH and the Louis staff endeavor to provide our customers with the most accurate up-to-date information about the availability of accessible educational materials and the Louis redesign is an integral part of this mission.

Sara Brown:

Wonderful. Okay, Linda, thank you so much for joining me today on Change Makers.

Linda Turner:

All right. Thank you, Sara.

Sara Brown:

Up next, we're going to hear the latest from the National Prison Braille Program We have is Prison Braille Senior Director Jayma Hawkins. Hello, Jayma , and welcome to Change Makers.

Jayma Hawkins:

Thank you. And thank you so much for having me now.

Sara Brown:

Can you tell us about the National Prison Braille Network? The Prison Braille Network is a group of professionals from the vision, the corrections field, as well as ex offenders who have been released from prison braille programs and have cottage businesses at home. It's a group that was formed in the year 2000 by Gary Mudd and Nancy Lacewell. And it was to bring all of the avenues of prison braille together so that we could bounce ideas off each other, solve problems, overcome hurdles and make good plans for the future. Now, can you tell us, when was this program developed? You said in the early 2000's, can you tell us a little bit more?

Jayma Hawkins:

Yes. Um , as prison braille, you know, we have 44 programs in 31 states, those states are rather each program is an island and they weren't really connecting to each other. So we wanted to bring everyone together to get a better feel and to become a network of, of colleagues. And actually, you know, as the years unfold, we've become a huge network of friends as well. And to see what the issues are , um, exchange ideas produce the best braille teams as possible. And I remember when it started as a very small focus group with less than 12 of us in a room, our last prison braille forum that we had in 2019 in person , there were 31 states in the room with 75 people. It has blossomed, it has grown. We've watched the success and we've overcome the hurdles and continue to network and , and grow that network and provide more services to prison, braille programs, to children, to our braille reading students and to those who are released from prison.

Sara Brown:

And can you tell us how many programs and inmates are participating in this prison braille network?

Jayma Hawkins:

We have 44 programs in 31 states and there are over a 1,000 people collectively participating.

Sara Brown:

Who benefits from this program?

Jayma Hawkins:

You know, this is a program that everyone benefits from the braille reading student benefits by receiving a quality well-rounded education and is given the opportunity of a higher education. And, you know, they go on to graduate college now and become happy, independent, productive citizens. The inmate benefits by earning national certifications, there is literary formatting, Namath, which is high math, UAB, technical music, certifications, proofreading certifications, as well as tactical graphic creation. Each sort of occasion that an inmate earns is an additional service that he or can provide as a private transcriber when released. Then they can go on to have a cottage business in their home using those unique skills while making that favorable wage. So it's, win-win everyone wins.

Sara Brown:

And one last question, is there anything else that you'd like listeners to know about this program?

Jayma Hawkins:

I think if I had to say anything, I would, I would focus again on, you know, prison. Braille is really the best kept secret. Most people don't know where their textbooks come from, nor is it their job to know just like sighted kids. Don't pick up an English book and go, wow, I wonder who wrote this book? I mean, it just doesn't happen. So if I had to think of anything, I would go back to it's, win-win the inmates, aren't in it for the income, they're in it for the outcome. And they spend years gaining the skills and also work ethic, teamwork, organizational skills. When they're released, they can use those skills to become the best person that they can be all the while providing those educational material to braille reading students who receive a meaningful education and they discover their passion as a result and use it to go onto a higher education and they to become the best people that they can be. So one feeds the other and everybody wins.

Sara Brown:

I like that. Everybody wins. Okay. Jayma, thank you so much for joining us today on Change Makers.

Jayma Hawkins:

Thank you so much for having me and allowing me to promote our program. It's a big passion of mine.

Sara Brown:

Great. Thank you. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Change Makers and we will put any links or websites mentioned in this podcast, in the show notes and as always be sure to look for ways you can be a change maker this week.