Sunday, March 16, 2008

I talked with my brother today

This is a break from educational technology - to personal technology. So...

I talked with my brother today. He called me, and we talked. I called him back and we talked some more.

My brother Dave lives in Connecticut, and I'm in Seattle. He's deaf/blind(legally), and I'm lucky enough to still have those senses.

Video relay systemToday we spoke on the phone - well, I was on the phone at least. Dave was watching an interpreter on a TV (up really close) who signed to him what I said. His TV is hooked up to a camera, so the interpreter can see what he is signing, and relay that back on to me. Yes, in the middle of all this technology there is a person (maybe hundreds, I don't know) who makes it meaningful for the people on either end.

Just amazing technology. Carried over the Internet. Getting him a big new TV was only part of it - he needed high speed Internet access, too.

But he needed somebody to set up the hardware and software to make the magic happen. Someday I hope to meet James, from the HKNC, in person. We've spoken, via the same video relay system before, and we've exchanged lots of email. James, if you're reading here, a big shoutout thank you!

Video relay systemSo I spoke with my brother today, but for the first time, I could not reach out and touch him. I'm ever so grateful for the people with the vision to make this happen.


Sarah said...

I just looked at all the slick things on your blog, wow. This summer i'd catching up! My daughter Sylvia will help I think.

I teach sign to my 1st grade as I can. I was supposed to take a course this year but it just got hard with the timing, so summer again.
Ah summer what a concept.

My bro in law has a friend Eric who has had over the years used these phone technologies but I didn't really understand. I think all he did was type and a reader read it. This sounds really incredible.

In my old job, long ago, in Monterey I integrated signing students in my room. It was the best years I ever taught, in that I learned to teach.I came out of that having understood something so differently.

Thanks so much for sharing this.
And also just thanks in general.
You work is a blessing to me as a teacher and person. It restores, renews and affirms.
Your life certainly brings so much to those you connect to.

Sarah said...

I need to edit that, yikes, sorry

Anonymous said...

What a powerful story. Thanks for sharing. Makes me laugh at those who say the internet is making us less social.

Mark Ahlness said...

Sarah, your comment is so much appreciated, thank you! Yes, the technology is so amazing. It's getting the people to embrace it that is the hard part. The two pictures in this post were of my brother 2 years ago, when he and I first experienced the videophone possibilities...

Dean, yes I agree about those who scoff. And if I got my twitter chatter right, you share a birthday with my brother. Same year, even. A small world Happy Birthday to you, today! - Mark