skip to main content

<< Learning Center

Media Accessibility Information, Guidelines and Research

A Librarian's Viewpoint

By Fran Miller

[Editor's note: This article is archived. Some content may be outdated.]

A school library.
I need a map of Shakespeare's England by first period!"
Is your printer working? My report's on disk and she wants a printout NOW!"
Find a picture of Benny Fuller, the all-time high scorer in ASD basketball."
I need captioned videos on ores. What do you have?"
This is Winn in Smackover. Do you have any captioned videos on the Civil War? My deaf student needs them ASAP!"
(E-mail from an interpreter for a mainstreamed student)
HELP!! I'm beginning my dissection unit and need those videos. Can you mail them today? Oh, I'm in Mountain Home."
(Call from a desperate teacher with hard of hearing students)

And so begins a typical day, 30 minutes before the first class at the Arkansas School for the Deaf in Little Rock. I am the Library Media Specialist, usually called the librarian or the "library woman," and my job is to satisfy these and other requests. There was a time when I only ordered, processed, and circulated books and magazines, the formerly traditional library materials. That time seems like the Garden of Eden--no stress, no problems, answers at my fingertips. Well, those halcyon days are long gone.

Today's librarian is an information specialist--one who can find the answers, but usually points the students in the right directions and helps them find what they need to know. The information resources at a residential school for the deaf are both as traditional as one might imagine and as cutting-edge as one could wish. Today's library networks with other libraries, has CD-ROMs, Internet access, satellite links, distance learning, and much more. Long gone are the days of simply "checking out a book."

One of the richest information resources on our campus is the collection of educational media from the Captioned Media Program (CMP) housed in the library. I have been depository manager for the CMP since 1976 and know its impact on teachers and students. When I began working at ASD, 80 percent of Arkansas' students who were deaf or hard of hearing came to our school. Now 80 percent of them are mainstreamed into public schools, a statistic that is true nationally.

Having the CMP collection on campus is a tremendous asset for our staff and students. Teachers schedule videos to augment their teaching, using them to introduce a new subject, to be the central focus of a lesson, or to summarize a week's study. They also call with last-minute needs: a student wants to explore something further; a reading story needs clarifying; a lesson takes an unexpected turn. Having the collection on hand means quick response and met needs for both teachers and students. That's part of my job as librarian/depository manager.

In the last several years, there has been increased student use of the CMP collection for research. Juniors and seniors often find relevant information on their chosen topics in video format. They are delighted with their cleverness and their teachers are impressed with their creative and critical thinking skills. I am also in their cheering section, pleased to know they have learned that videos can be used for something other than entertainment and games!

However challenging and satisfying I find meeting the needs of ASD's students and staff to be, an equal or greater challenge exists with the 80% mainstreamed students. Getting the word to these students and their educational support team (i.e., teachers, principals, parents, and interpreters) is an unending task. So what am I doing about it? Sending letters, making phone calls, mailing brochures generated by the NAD/CMP, attending professional conferences, talking, talking, talking. Are my efforts well spent? Ask the teachers and students "out there" who use captioned media.

These videos, books, and stuff that the Arkansas School for the Deaf sends me really help a lot!"
Beth Birchfield; Senior
Smackover, Arkansas
It was very helpful for Beth to look at the captioned videos. It is hard or impossible to look at the (noncaptioned) video and look at the interpreter . . . Beth was able to have some input into the lesson."
L. Shephard; Teacher
Smackover High School,
Smackover, Arkansas
I hope this program can be continued for the benefit of the mainstreamed deaf and hard of hearing students around the U.S. I have noticed that many hearing students appreciate seeing captioning and it helps in their understanding of the video also. Thanks for your hard work."
Winn McCarty; Interpreter
Smackover High School,
Smackover, Arkansas
. . . captioned videos have been an invaluable tool in teaching my students. The variety of topics helps catch the attention of my students and also reinforces their reading skills. I'm thankful for this free service when things cost so much."
Cara Clinton; Teacher
Angie Elementary School
Benton, Arkansas

Students often use the captioned material for better understanding and learning, and teachers succeed with an often clearer lesson. Both have a feeling of accomplishment. Having the CMP depository in Arkansas benefits students who are deaf or hard of hearing, regardless of their school placement. Their teachers, principals, interpreters, counselors, and speech pathologists all have quick access to the collection, which can offer them a better understanding of deafness, opportunities to learn sign language, exposure to new subjects, enrichment for their classes, and a chance to truly assist in the education of their special students. My job is to see that their needs are met.

However, I don't just help with information in the educational setting. I also send titles to parents who want to learn sign language, want to know more about deafness, or just want to share watching captioned videos with their children. I provide a wide range of videos from this general-interest collection, from travel to classic movies to health and to other topics of interest; things just for fun and pleasure. So you see, the CMP collection is available to a wide range of the population.

But do I serve only Arkansas? Not on your life! The CMP is networked nationally, and I send titles to faraway states like California, New Jersey, and Montana. They, of course, send me captioned videos in return. So we all provide service and information to those who need it--all in all, a nice cooperative effort for the good of everyone.

The importance of the CMP to the 28 million Americans who are deaf or hard of hearing cannot be overemphasized. Information is power; it fuels the ability to decide for oneself, to determine one's own personal course of action. As a librarian, I not only support access to information, I am actively engaged in seeing that it happens.

I enjoy my profession. I see frustration vanish with information; I see understanding come with explanation; I see minds eager for exploration; I see eyes gleam with anticipation. Information means gaps filled. Explanation means questions answered and clarification. Exploration means new territory investigated. Anticipation means eagerness to begin and hope for success. My goal is to make this happen for those who want to know more . . . anything . . . everything.

Let's see what tomorrow brings! I'm ready. Are you?

Oops, there's the bell. Gotta run.

Article written by Fran Miller, librarian and depository manager, Arkansas School for the Deaf, Little Rock, AR

Tags: history, dcmp

Please take a moment to rate this Learning Center resource by answering three short questions.

Okay, Sure!