Editor’s note: This blog was written by Christine DaLee – Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind; Colorado Springs, Colorado
Adults with visual impairments have varied and interesting careers, and who better to investigate and share with us about those careers than students who are also blind or visually impaired? The It’s My Job podcast is one of the many fun projects developed as a remote learning and teaching opportunity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Episodes of It’s My Job center on interviews between students and adults, discussing student-prepared questions about career, college, independent living, and technology. Each episode is published as a captioned video on Facebook and YouTube, with links to additional resources for students to learn more about the interviewees. Past episodes have included student interviewers of all ages, from the Virgin Islands, Texas, Guatemala, New York, Florida, and Arizona. Interviewees’ backgrounds have been exciting and feature diverse career paths – from marine biology to the music industry, technology, and journalism!
Rebecca Sheffield, Ph.D. developed It’s My Job while working as a teacher of children with visual impairment (TVI) in the US Virgin Islands. Using email and social media, she was able to recruit blind and low vision adults from consumer organizations and social media groups. She recruited student interviewers with the help of other TVIs and the Perkins’ Paths to Technology blog. Using video conferencing tools, Rebecca connected interviewees and interviewers through the internet and recorded the sessions. After editing, Rebecca shared those recordings on YouTube and Facebook.
From the beginning, Rebecca emphasized the importance of creating student-driven interviews. For each episode, the student interviewer prepares 10 interview questions which are sent to the interviewee in advance. Students use braille and/or technology, along with support from TVIs, COMS, and parents, to run their interviews independently. Each student chooses questions they are most interested in asking – from how the interviewee uses technology to how they manage traveling, cooking, and studying.
The response to It’s My Job has been fantastic. As this blog post is being written, episodes had been accessed thousands of times on the Perkins’ Paths to Technology blog. The podcast’s Facebook and YouTube have a combined total of almost 2,000 views. Teachers have mentioned using podcast episodes as part of lessons in career education and other parts of the expanded core curriculum, and students look forward to learning more about careers and more about each other through future episodes.
In October of 2020, Rebecca started a new workforce adventure herself, accepting a position with the US Department of Education. Through It’s My Job network, Rebecca connected with Christine DaLee, Transition Teacher at the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind (CSDB) with plans to keep the podcast running and growing from its new virtual home at CSDB. At CSDB, and in continued collaboration with other schools, students, and teachers; the podcast will become even more student-run. Because the podcast is now hosted at a specialized school for the blind, Christine has the resources to offer students opportunities to explore audio editing, communication skills, careers, and more. APH Family Connect is excited to welcome Christine DaLee as a collaborator and It’s My Job facilitator. We hope you enjoy past and future episodes of It’s My Job as the podcast continues to grow and offer learning opportunities both through podcast content and “behind the scenes” as the podcast continues to grow.
The first episode recorded at the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind (CSDB) is the twelfth episode of It’s My Job. In this episode Jose, a student in Colorado, interviews Annie Chiappetta who is a retired family therapist and author of poems, articles and short fiction have appeared in numerous online and print publications. Jose and Annie discussed her experience as author, poet, and retired family therapist, and more. Listen to learn how Annie decided to pursue a career in family therapist and what her days are like as an author!