I was part of the school news program at each of the schools I attended and held various positions both in front of and behind the camera, and also served as an advisor to an elementary school news program as part of my high school mentorship. Each school had their own way of structuring the school news program- some did daily live broadcasts, while others used pre-recorded broadcasts on a daily or weekly basis, and treated the school news program as an extracurricular or as an elective class. Here are my tips for participating in school news programs with low vision, based on my own experiences.
Using a teleprompter
Some of the school news programs I worked with used a teleprompter for the anchors to read off of, which was set up on a laptop positioned about five feet from the news desk. Other programs had students read off of a paper or digital script that was at the news desk. My preferred way to read information on my high school news program was to set up a teleprompter app on my iPad that I would position within my field of vision so I could read information, while my co-anchors would use their own teleprompter or read from a script. I liked having my own personal screen because I could customize the font to a larger size that was more comfortable for me, and the larger font size made it so I was less likely to misread information.
- Ways To Use Teleprompter Apps As Assistive Technology
- My Eight Favorite Free Fonts For Print Disabilities
- Paper Size and Low Vision
- How To Make Things On The Board Easier To See
Use a camera with auditory feedback
I have trouble reading small letters or alerts on the video camera, so I turned on several auditory settings in the camera settings menu so that I could make sure that the device was recording and operate other camera functions as needed. This audio feedback was not noticeable in the news broadcast.
Wearing glasses/using mobility aids on camera
While many students who wear glasses would take them off for school news, I always kept my glasses on because I do not have much usable vision without them and it’s a safety hazard. When one of the sponsor teachers for school news insisted that I take off my tinted glasses for a broadcast, I told them no and that my eyes feel like they are burning when I take off my glasses.
I had a student ask me about whether they should have their blindness cane with them during news broadcasts I did not use a blindness cane when I was attending public school, but since most of my school news broadcasts involved me sitting or standing in one position, I would not have had my blindness cane on camera since I wasn’t going anywhere. If I was shooting a segment that involved walking, I would have used my blindness cane if I was in an unfamiliar area or outside, since these are settings where I would naturally use my cane.
- How To Deal With Broken Glasses
- How Tinted Glasses Help My Light Sensitivity
- How I Respond To Questions/Comments About My Glasses
- How I Respond To Questions/Comments About My Eyes
- Seven Places I Don’t Take My Blindness Cane
Have interviews in easy to access locations
When doing location scouting for segments, I would choose locations that were easy for everyone to access safely. I refrained from interviewing people at the top of staircases, on staircases, in parking lots, in front of windows, or near heavy doors that could be opened in someone’s face. Instead, I would typically shoot interviews in a vacant classroom, well-lit hallway, or in other common areas that could be accessed by everyone on the news crew.
- High School Hallways and Low Vision
- School Lockers and Low Vision
- Ten Skills I Learned During My High School Mentorship
Have a copy of the script in large print or on a device
When filming interviews or segments for school news broadcasts outside of the studio, I would print out a copy of the script or filming plan in large print or save it to my phone so that I could access it as needed. Having this information in a font size and format that I can read with low vision made it easy for me to collaborate with others and make revisions as needed.
- What I’ve Learned About Print Disabilities
- Five Myths About Print Disabilities
- How I Use My Phone As Assistive Technology In Class
Using an assistant
Since I often held leadership positions within school news programs, I was able to request a student assistant/human guide who would serve as an extra pair of eyes when setting up a video shot or serve as my human guide if I needed to go somewhere or get descriptive information. I have a post about how to be a human guide and more about this term linked below.
- How To Be An Effective Human Guide For People With Vision Loss
- How I Talk About Disability With New Friends
- How I Respond To Children’s Questions/Comments About Low Vision
- Supporting Classroom Volunteers With Low Vision
Check the background
When I was shooting a segment for school news at my high school once, I forgot to look at what was behind the subject and realized after the first take that the bulletin board behind them appeared to spell out an inappropriate phrase when students stood in front of it. This experience taught me that having a human guide/assistant is helpful, and the importance of checking the background before filming!
- Choosing The Best Custom Video Backgrounds For Low Vision Audiences
- Choosing Wallpapers and Backgrounds With Low Vision
Train in different jobs
My first ever position on a school news program was as a script writer and supervisor, and I eventually started trying out other position such as camera operator, lead producer, editor, director, anchor, travel reporter, tech support, and others. At first, I wasn’t sure how I would be able to participate in some of these positions with low vision, but the sponsors for the school news program let me practice with equipment during lunch or recess/study hall so I could become more comfortable with using it. My favorite positions were probably the lead producer and travel reporter ones, as I got to shoot pre-recorded segments that covered interesting topics that went beyond the lunch menu and other standard school news segments.
- Designing Accessible Documents With Microsoft Word
- College Interview Tips For Disabled Students
- Mainstream Technology and Low Vision: Keyboards
Other tips for participating in school news with low vision
- My middle school news program rotated anchors weekly, and I requested that I be paired with one of my best friends who was used to me using large print and I felt comfortable being with them on the air. The experience was a lot of fun!
- When I was an editor for the school news, I would use a large TV monitor connected to a laptop to stitch together videos. The larger monitor also made it easier for other editors to collaborate since we didn’t have to huddle around a small screen
- Most scripts for school news don’t need to be memorized or read word-for-word, so students shouldn’t panic about forgetting lines or not remembering lines verbatim