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Working with Schools – Remote versus Face to Face

Sharon with the mercury 12

Lockdown has brought its many challenges and some opportunities.

A lot of my work is with students with low vision in schools, mainly demoing and then training students and their teachers on using equipment like the Mercury 12 Education System.

When students first see this equipment with the near and distance magnification capabilities on a touch screen, they take to it instantly. The familiar environment of Windows puts people at ease about using the Surface for many purposes (like a laptop). Even online, the students and the teachers recognise the benefits quickly. And they are happy to ask loads of great questions about its capabilities and how they could use it in the classroom.

Online, there have been no restrictions on attendees, so we’ve had students, parents, teachers, SNAs, principals and IT support all attending and all getting the opportunity to ask great questions.

There is a camaraderie online, in acknowledging that it is not ideal, but knowing that this was the quickest way to progress with setting a student up with the equipment they need to remove any barriers to learning. It is the “we’re all in it together” feeling that makes it work.

But it is good to be back!

I love the connection with the people, but also with the building and the area. There is no match to trying a piece of equipment out in the actual classroom with the actual student to really know how it is going to work. Even two students with the same eye condition may have different requirements, so it is always best for the student to try it out in person.

The Mercury 12 Education System comes with lots of accessories, and I personally like to make sure that they are all working and charging perfectly. This is tricky to do online.

The schools are amazing. They are so careful with all the restrictions. They always set up my visit in a large airy, well-ventilated room. We are all very patient with each other on getting paperwork done, sanitising the area and the equipment. There is a mutual reassurance and understanding about keeping everyone as safe as possible. Their deep commitment to their students shines through on every visit.