Texas iSchool Launches School Librarian Certificate ProgramSandlin, Anu  | Oct 08, 2019
In early October 2019, the University of Texas at Austin School of Information launched its new School Librarian Certificate Program. The certificate program will be coordinated by Dr. Barbara A. Jansen, an educator with over 35 years of experience as an elementary classroom teacher, K-12 school librarian, and university instructor.
As a school librarian, Jansen was committed to collaborating with teachers to fully integrate information literacy skills, content objectives, and technology into the curriculum, while creating a culture of reading on campuses. Now as coordinator of the School Librarian Certificate Program, Jansen brings this expertise to the Texas iSchool’s newly restructured program.
Jansen explained why the value of this certificate program would continue to pay off. “Children require passionate and knowledgeable school librarians to help them effectively identify, evaluate, and use information to become innovative creators of new knowledge.”
“Today’s school librarians foster children’s ability to think critically, providing them with the skills they need to analyze, form, and communicate ideas in compelling ways,” explained Jansen. “But what’s more, school librarians continue to cultivate a passion for reading –and the ability to read in multiple formats.”
The School of Information is currently accepting applications for the summer 2020 cohort of school librarian certification students.
Jansen expressed her enthusiasm about the new program and encouraged passionate, motivated teachers who wished to make a broader impact on teaching and learning at their schools to apply. “If you are passionate about working closely with students, teachers, administrators, and parents to help shape strong and caring citizens for our communities and global workplaces, then school librarianship is for you!” she explained.
If you are passionate about working closely with students, teachers, administrators, and parents to help shape strong and caring citizens for our communities and global workplaces, then school librarianship is for you!
“Current teachers with at least two years’ classroom experience in a Texas public school or accredited private school should apply,” said Jansen. “School librarianship could be the next exciting phase of your career!”
Aligning the goals of the School Librarian Certificate Program with those of the Texas iSchool, Jansen emphasized the dedication towards producing school librarians who will become leaders in their field, and continue to create modern library programs that prepare the public school children of Texas for their college, career, and military experiences.
As coordinator of the program, Jansen will host several live information sessions throughout the month of October. The goal of these virtual sessions is to provide additional information and answer questions related to the School Librarian Certificate Program.
Sessions will be held on October 8 at 5:30 p.m., October 9 at 8:30 p.m., October 10 at 4:30 p.m., October 12 at 11:30 a.m., October 13 at 7:00 p.m., October 15 at 6:30 p.m., October 17 at 5:30 a.m., and October 22 at 8:00 p.m. via Zoom platform.
The School Librarian Certificate Program is currently the only program offered at the University of Texas at Austin for current teachers and educators who wish to pursue school librarianship.
“Be a part of something special,” said Jansen. “Join the inaugural class of 2020 and experience the newly restructured School Librarian Certificate Program at the University of Texas at Austin!”
Texas School of Information Hosts Successful Accessibility HackathonSandlin, Anu  | Nov 21, 2018
The University of Texas at Austin’s School of Information hosted an Accessible Web Demonstration and Hackathon on Friday, October 26, 2018. The five-hour event, which took place from 12:00 to 5:00 p.m. in the iSchool IT Lab, was co-sponsored by the iSchool’s IT Team and Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
Texas iSchool partnered with Knowbility Inc., a locally-based non-profit whose mission is to, "support the independence of children and adults with disabilities by promoting the use and improving the availability of accessible information technology.”
Knowbility brought in volunteers from AccessWorks, a Knowbility program that connects usability and UX professionals to people with disabilities who can then test web sites and apps using their own assistive technologies (such as screen readers, screen magnifiers, special keyboards etc.). Anne Forrest and Barry Armour demonstrated assistive technologies used in the service of accessing Web and other digital content.
There is no more compelling way to teach accessible design than to work with –and hear directly from— those who rely on assistive technologies every day.
Forrest, who suffered a brain injury several years ago, has been recognized as one of the nation's leading patient advocates for people with traumatic brain injury. Armour, a blind screen-reader user who lost his eyesight about 6 years ago, is an advocate for educating people about technology and making it accessible for everyone. Forrest provided a unique perspective on how screen color and movements affect people with brain injuries, while Armour demoed screen readers.
The group discussed some of the most common design considerations regarding accessible code. Event participants then had the opportunity to hack on the iSchool Website to help improve the School’s accessibility score –determined by the WorldSpace auditing tool, and used by UT’s Division of Diversity and Community Engagement.
“I can’t thank Knowbility (Sharron, Jillian, and Christi) or Anne and Barry enough for making our Accessibility Hackathon such a success,” said Sam Burns, Texas iSchool’s Senior IT Manager. “There is no more compelling way to teach accessible design than to work with –and hear directly from— those who rely on assistive technologies every day,” he stated.
Thirty-three students attended the Accessibility Hackathon; twenty-seven were iSchoolers and two were from other programs. Attendance and participation did not require prior web or coding experience. “We had a wonderful turnout,” said Burns. “The students commented that having our partners from Knowbility –and AccessWorks volunteer advocates— made it a truly fantastic learning experience.”
The Texas iSchool hopes to host another successful Accessibility Hackathon next year. “Knowing how to create accessible tools is both a responsibility and a privilege,” said Burns. “The more we innovate towards inclusion, the better we become as theorists, designers, and developers of future information systems.”