Sandra Kelly by HC121005183842

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									Sandra Kelly
skelly@ksd.state.ks.us
Outreach Services Facilitator
Kansas School for the Deaf

                  Communication of Information in the Technology World

PROBLEM:
The 21st Century has been labeled the information age. With the explosion of technology
and access to worldwide information it becomes apparent that people can be easily
overwhelmed with “too much information”. Families with children, who are deaf/hard of
hearing, peer-professionals in the field and the general public often, do not have the time
or technology skills to search unguided through the maze of mountainous cyberspace bits
and bytes. The component that seems to be missing is communication of this information.
   Parents especially want information that has relevance to their child, their lives and
    their situation.
   Professionals have indicated a desire to collaborate directly with others in the field in
    regard to specific topics.
   Many times individuals from the general public may have questions and not know
    where to start in their search for answers.
SOLUTION:
We have been creating our website [www.ksdeaf.org] in an effort to address these
specific challenges. Three general guidelines have emerged as being crucial in the
development of a website that offers communication of information:
1. Easy of navigation: When setting up a website for a multi-component organization,
    it is very important that the organizational structure be understandable to those who
    are not part of the organization. What may seem logical to people on the ‘inside’ may
    not be clear to those from the ‘outside’. We addressed this challenge by presenting
    our organizational information to an objective person who helped us with designing
    our site map. General departments that are constant throughout the year are listed at
    the top [header] of the Home page. Items that are current and continually changing
    are listed on the side bar. Links to other pages within the site can be very helpful, but
    the person navigating the system needs to see how to get back. By having the header
    navigation sites constant on all pages the user can easily find his/her way back. This
    system appears to have worked very successfully for us.
2. Clear written format: Writing script for websites presents a challenge to many
    writers, because the style is unique. It has been suggested that written information
    contained within a single web page be no longer than the monitor screen. Users tend
    to scroll down for pictures, but not for written copy. The challenge becomes
    providing sought after information in a way that is neither wordy nor ‘watered-down’,
    yet ‘user-friendly’ for the wide variety of ‘users’. [Writing for the web is an
    additional skill that can be taught to students!]
3. Current information: An often overlooked yet very critical guideline is keeping
    information not only current, but timely. If the user knows that by accessing a specific
    page, he/she will be able to get relevant information, he/she will visit the page on a
    regular basis. We have found that our staff utilizes the website as a resource for
    communication within the school. One person is not responsible for finding all of the
    information that will be posted. [However, there is only one person that posts all
    information.] By having many individuals within the school sending information
    pertinent to their area, they have an ownership of the site. They also have a sense for
    what their readers want to see and read about. Information on our site changes on a
    weekly and sometimes, daily basis.
IMPACT:
   Our families have responded very positively to the website. By having the email
    addresses of staff members available in connection with specific areas on the site,
    parents have the opportunity to directly ask questions or get more information. We
    have also heard from prospective families about how helpful our information has
    been in their search for educational placement for their children.
   Much of our state is rural. Our peer professionals in the smaller populated counties of
    the state have commented about the helpfulness of resources they can access on our
    website. They have also stated that the current information of up-coming activities is
    greatly appreciated.
   The number of people around the world that have visited our site constantly amazes
    us. Many individuals contact us by email, phone and regular mail requesting
    information and state that they “heard” about us through our website.
Our website is still in the stages of infancy. We certainly do not pretend to have the
perfect site and are constantly finding mistakes and areas that need improvement. This is
a work in progress. However, we have found the website to be a wonderful vehicle for
communication with others.

								
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