|This issue has got to be
one of my favorites. I'm surprised and delighted that it turned out so
well. Here's why:
A couple years back we had
an issue topic called Exploring Adaptive Technologies (June 1999). When
we originally chose this theme in our annual editorial meeting, we all
thought it would be a great chance to cover different technologies that
don't usually come up in our articles. We planned to demystify various
devices that our readers may not have had time to research—or devices that
they weren't aware of at all. So it was with great expectations that I
put that topic out in the field, and I waited for article queries. I didn't
get as many as I'd hoped.
What I found was that not
many people felt qualified to write about specialized hardware and software
for people with disabilities. So we had to work extra hard to put together
an issue that we thought was helpful. (Luckily, our columnists came through
for us, as always.) After it was published, we did get positive comments
about that issue. But still, it had fallen short of my goals.
Well time marches on, and
technology marches with it. We wanted to cover a similar topic again because
there are new devices available, and many more concerns with Web site accessibility.
This year we gave the topic a slightly different spin: Providing for Special
Populations. And we hit a gold mine! I'm thrilled with the wonderful and
diverse features that we got for this month.
article is all about putting computers in the libraries of various
Native American tribes around the Southwest. Talk about a special population!
Natives may not be the first one you think of, but the tribes have many
concerns of their own. First, they are remote and often lack the electronic
infrastructure that many of us take for granted. There are also education
and literacy issues, not to mention cultural concerns. Happily, the Bill
& Melinda Gates Foundation addressed them all with a special team of
folks who customized programs to donate computers and software, to train
library staff and users, and to give ongoing technical support. What a
Another "special population"
you may not often think about is prisoners. Do they use electronic information?
What are their libraries like? You'll find the answers, along with interesting
anecdotes from a librarian who serves inmates, starting on page 48.
Now, don't worry—for those
of you who have been waiting to learn about today's adaptive technology
for patrons whose sight, hearing, or mobility is impaired, we've got that
covered too. Our authors have written about hardware and furniture, software,
Internet issues, and legal considerations in three features and three columns.
Each has a different twist, and each is packed with valuable insights and
Consequently, this issue
has exceeded my expectations! I hope you'll feel the same way.
Kathy Dempsey, Editor