Our work with the National Institute of Speech and Hearing began with a few Skype meetings in which the Library Management team — Sybil Boone and Jharina Pascual — worked with the NISH librarian and a faculty member to shape the scope of the project. Our understanding was that it would be difficult to make correct assumptions about the academic and technological environment, especially given the school’s target population of Deaf and Hard of Hearing students. It was decided that we would create a skeleton library website on Drupal, with back-end infrastructure that would support additions that we found would be useful through a series of user interviews as well as observation.
Our assignment over the first few weeks was to collect information about their current policies, practices, management systems, and collection. We also scheduled several interviews with students as well as faculty to understand their current use, understanding, and perceptions of the NISH library as well as libraries in general. During this process, we found that a library website could provide assistance in helping students complete their course research by providing a more intuitive and centralized interface from which to access many of NISH’s online resources. We also provided pages in which students and faculty could access resources related to working with technology, producing properly formatted work, or improving pedagogical practices.
The distinction of working with a population of Deaf/HH students in India is that the website must to provide alternate methods of accessing the information. While the videos we link on the site all have captions, it was much harder to address the lack of Indian Sign Language presence on the web. In order to partially address this, we produced two videos that include members of the NISH community introducing the library and its policies in ISL.
Overall, we hope that the resources can address some of the difficulties that NISH community members share with many academic communities around dealing with information on the web. Namely, we hope that the new website can facilitate the gathering of reliable, authoritative information on academic subjects, as well as introducing methods of making that information easier to evaluate and use in their work.