Tuesday, 13 January 2009: 11:15 AM
Untapped career opportunities for persons with visual impairments
Room 125B (Phoenix Convention Center)
In atmospheric science, information is often communicated in visual form. Maps, radar images, and satellite imagery are widely used to display daily weather forecasts and current conditions. Textbooks, professional journals, and conference presentations are rich in figures that illustrate concepts and research findings. Given this preponderance of visual material, students with visual impairments, as well as their parents, instructors, and potential employers, may be tempted to assume that atmospheric science is not a suitable field for them. In fact, however, thanks to the widespread use of the computer and the availability of assistive technology, many atmospheric science careers are well suited to students with visual impairments who have acquired the necessary skills. Both personal experience and literature suggest that for people with visual impairments, success in science hinges upon the use of effective modes of communication between them and their sighted instructors and colleagues. With these considerations in mind, the author will discuss relevant assistive technology and adaptive strategies, present techniques for ensuring the accessibility of materials and programs to auditory and tactile learners, and suggest a collaborative approach to implementing reasonable accommodations. Together, these strategies create an environment in which the visually impaired student or employee can be expected to perform at the same level as everyone else.