Monday, June 15, 2009

An Update from Liz

NOTE: Elizabeth Campbell, the subject of a posting last week, sent another picture of her guide dog, Gabe, and an update for the story she wrote for StarText INK almost 25 years ago. The original post follows. Thanks Liz!

Howdy from a loyal StarTexan! You will see a story I wrote years ago when we were publishing StarText Ink, a magazine that kept subscribers informed about all of the happenings of the Star-Telegram’s electronic news service.

Twenty five years later, I’m still reporting for the paper, and I hope to keep doing so as it is exciting and challenging.

I’m currently covering Johnson and Parker counties — two rapidly growing areas west and south of Fort Worth.

I do stories on everything from the unusual earthquakes in Cleburne to a controversy over a 1,000-bed detention center that was to locate northwest of Fort Worth.

You will see several pictures of me with my second Seeing Eye dog, a yellow lab Golden retirever mix named Gabe. He is a wonderful, smart boy.

Ten years ago, I decided to get a Seeing Eye dog after two unpleasant experiences, and my first dog Bates, and now Gabe are often better-known than I am! Well, maybe that is a slight exaggeration!!

Now, back to StarText!

Accessing information electronically continues to be an incredibly important aspect of my job. Like my sighted colleagues, I can follow Twitter, Facebook and various blogs, and I credit my early use of StarText for making the change to the Internet a painless one.

This was not always the case for some of my colleagues who looked at the computer as a necessary evil of the job rather than a means of expanding horizons and learning more about the world.

StarText played a big part in helping me do my job independently because I had to rely on the computer for my newspaper reading. But I also was way ahead of many of my journalism colleagues, as I was already familiar with e-mail and the concept of online discussions long before others jumped on the band wagon, so to speak.

I hope you enjoy this story written shortly after I came to work at the Star-Telegram soon after graduating from Baylor University.

-- Elizabeth Campbell


Liz and her dog, Gabe

Elizabeth Campbell has been a reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram since the early 1980s. What makes that remarkable is that Liz is blind. When she began her career, StarText played a pivotal role. In the February, 1985 StarText INK, Liz wrote about it.

By Elizabeth Campbell

Imagine not having access to your favorite sections of the newspaper. You couldn't browse through the classified ads or read the breaking stories on the front.

How can a young blind jouirnalist solve these problems?

When I came to the Star-Telegram in June I realized that I needed some way to keep up with the news. The radio and television do not give detailed accounts of the day's events.

Fortunately, StarText came to the rescue! I went online in mid-July (1984), and a new, exciting world opened up for me.

For the first time in my life, I could sit down and "read" the newspaper by myself. Before, I depended on readers to help with this task. Often, having people read for me was a problem because I had story deadlines to meet or my reader had other commitments.

Therefore, I had some problems keeping up with the news everyday. StarText solved the problem because now, I can log on whenever I have time to scroll through the stories.

StarText has helped me to become more independent because I don't have to rely on others to do my work for me.

At this point, you might be asking what kind of system does she use to get StarText in the first place?

I use an Apple IIE and a VersaBraille terminal to do both my news reading and my writing for the Star-Telegram. The Apple and the VersaBraille can be interfaced.

When I am using the Apple, I have a speech synthesizer called an Echo2 that is installed inside the Apple. The Echo says everything that is printed to the screen. It uses over 400 pronunciation rules in the English language.

When I want to download from StarText, I use a data communications program called Talking Transend. I also have the option to download using the VersaBraille. The VersaBraille is a small terminal about the size of a tape recorder. The Braille shows up on a small display that runs across the top of the machine. All my files from VersaBraille are stored on cassette tape.

When I finish downloading what I need from StarText, I like reading through the material in Braille. So, I have another program called Braille Edit. Braille Edit is a word processing package for blind Apple users.

The program also translates text files into Braille. I like to transfer StarText to the VersaBraille so I can read it more accurately.

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