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David is a blind student; his educational experience is quite different from that of most college students.
David finds that online courses offer many advantages, especially for those who are sight impaired or work full time. While taking the online classes, David still managed to work a full-time job from his Maryland home.
"Ten years ago I would have to spend a lot more money to attend classes or I would not have been able to go to class at all. The fact that I can check my e-mail at 3:00 in the morning and do my mandatory participation at that hour seems to exceed my expectations for taking an online class," says David about the advantages of taking an online course.
Because he is visually impaired, David was never comfortable taking traditional face-to-face classes. So, when he discovered Temple's Online Learning Program, he found a learning environment to meet all his needs.
"I don't like sitting in a classroom with a bunch of people I don't know. Here (at Temple) I could participate in classes during lunch or at three in the morning, and I could do it all on my own schedule. Taking online classes made things so much easier," recalls David.
"I realized that while I was doing some job interviewing, trying to leave the company that I was working for, that a college degree will really matter. This is something that they wanted and since I was so close. Then I heard about the online learning program from my fiancιe."
Distance education technology afforded David's smooth return to college. By using screen-reader software, which provides speech output to sight impaired users, David was able to effectively communicate with his professors and fellow students in the online environment.
Instead of visually reading student e-mails or class assignments from the professor, David hears information on his computer screen through JAWS (Job Access With Speech). The JAWS software reads menus, dialog boxes, edit fields, and other Windows commands, instantly transferring screen information into an audible format so David understands what is happening on his computer screen.
"The software represents your eyes. It does make a difference if you have it. You have to know how to use windows and read your mail, but you also have to know about how to use the screen reader, which may seem like a difficult task, but it is pretty easy to learn."
David received his degree from Temple University last December. He now works with sight-impaired students, sharing the benefits of using computers and technology to achieve career and life goals.
David Goldfield can be reached at email@example.com
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