Client Success Story: Learning Fast in the World of Digital Literacy

BridgingApps’ latest Client Success Story, told by Alejandra “Ale” Gonzalez, Digital Navigator.

This story began when Malissa Dean, a visually impaired young-adult client, came to the BridgingApps open lab. Her goal was (and is) to become YouTube famous, and she wanted to start by learning to use social media safely.

We started with basic internet safety and keeping her information secure. She learned to add only “friends” and “followers” she knew in real life, and how to block individuals who posted negative content. We then progressed to teaching her to record and edit videos, and to show her whole face in the frame. She loved this and made tons of videos to send her family and friends.

Malissa in AT lab, displaying two device screens

She was also making plans to study at HCC’s VAST Academy, so she moved on to discovering accessibility settings that would help her read coursework. We showed her the best built-in settings on her phone and iPad:

  • Increased text size
  • Classic Invert, which reverses the colors of the display
  • Spoken Content, which allows her to select text and have it read aloud
  • Zoom (not the virtual-meeting app, but an accessibility setting that magnifies the entire screen)

We then reviewed accessibility settings on her Windows laptop. Her BridgingApps trainer introduced her to Morphic, a toolbar that makes it easier to discover and use accessibility features built into computers—the same features she was using on her phone, but also needed to access on her computer for coursework. The Morphic toolbar helped her independently complete her VAST Academy application—and made it much easier to use her laptop for other purposes as well.

She also enrolled in the SkillsBuild program (teen version) for course videos and trainings on:

  • Workplace skills
  • How to get internships
  • Study skills
  • Digital literacy
  • Financial literacy
  • Mental health awareness  
  • Courses to acquire digital credentials that could be added to her résumé (she was really excited about that, as she was already applying for jobs)

Malissa loved SkillsBuild—and she received her first digital credential within a week!

Malissa using a smartphone in AT lab

Most recently, we’ve been working on smartphone-based organizational strategies to help her live a more independent life. We’ve worked through how to set reminders for important events, and how to add appointments to her calendar. We’ve also created folders within her Notes app, so she can more easily find specific notes and appointments. And she’s created a questions folder to write down questions for her job-coaching sessions—and added that note’s location to her Reminders app, so she’ll remember to ask the questions!

Finally, we’ve talked through strategies for managing her emails, and she has learned to create email folders and to organize messages by topic and recipient. There’s more to come: she’s still excited to continue learning, and still finding new ways to use technology to her advantage!

Malissa in AT lab with a device in each hand, and a monitor screen full of color and icons

P.S. Give a shout-out this week to Global Accessibility Awareness Day, May 16!

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