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The Braille Examiner - page 9 / 11





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also relaxed the interviewers, who could see that I was not jittery or sensitive about the subject. But all the while I was masking my nervousness about a question to which I had not found the answer: how could my skill set, acquired through working in blindness technology at the Jernigan Institute, transfer to work at DISA. What paid off were two skills I had learned already: 1. Remaining calm under pressure and 2. active listening. As my interviewers further described the various functions which DISA performs, the answer suddenly came to me - and not a moment too soon! When the interviewers asked how my work in access technology had any relationship to the warfighting community, I responded that technology is about end-users and facilitating their processes, and is also concerned with usability. Furthermore, regardless of the user, one must be concerned with requirements definition, scope, testing and evaluation, operations and support, and sustainment and disposal. The distinction between those technologies used by the warfighter and a blind person are scope and requirements; both communities rely upon technology to get the job done. Apparently, my response was satisfactory. I received an offer letter and I accepted a position with the Enterprise Architecture group. Enterprise Architecture is the graphical description of the current and/or future structure and behavior of an organization's processes, information systems, personnel and organizational sub-units, aligned with the organization's core goals and strategic direction. I had to determine how I would access these graphical depictions. With my supervisor's support, I devoted work time to talking with experts in tactile graphics and performing price and functionality comparisons among tactile graphics solutions. I settled on the Emprint embosser, which is a dual tactile graphics and ink print printer, and IVEO software and accompanying touchpad. I can explore a diagram through Braille and speech. In addition, I can collaborate with sighted colleagues on diagrams. I am lucky to have reliable access technology at my fingertips, but success in the workplace and in life depends on the cultivation of many skills, including, in my case, the appropriate use of a human reader. Even though I have worked in blindness technology, I can tell you from firsthand experience that good skills with Braille, human readers, and cane or dog guide, and most important, a positive philosophy about blindness, should never be undervalued. Technology is not the panacea to all life's problems. It's only part of a bigger picture and a bigger solution that must be cultivated from within. Once I had solved my own problem, my supervisor directed my problem-solving skills to those affecting the agency. One such problem involved tracking software from when it is requested, purchased, and installed on end-users' workstations, while keeping multiple groups apprised. My teammates and I asked questions of the many groups who were involved in these processes. I used Braille for capturing their responses. Through one-on-one training, I familiarized myself with the capabilities of a web-based application, which ultimately became the solution to this particular problem. I developed and implemented the concept for how the application would facilitate all of the processes. This involved working with lots of data that was in MS Excel and MS Word and pulling that information into the web-based tool. As I completed

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