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Date: November 02, 2004

Fall Convocation: Students on Two Sides of the Web

The University of Victoria will award more than 1,200 degrees, diplomas and certificates at fall convocation ceremonies Nov. 10 and 12. Among the graduates will be a computer scientist dedicated to making life on the Web easier for the visually impaired and a Nigerian woman who completed her master’s degree in UVic’s “virtual” campus.

Shoreh Hadian receives her master’s in computer science next week, having completed original research on the experiences of students with vision problems and their use of Web-based courses and learning resources.

Hadian analyzed the key components of on-line learning: adaptive software that reads Web pages out loud, on-line and interactive course materials, and Web browsers. She pinpointed design issues that can make or break the effectiveness of software and, by extension, access to learning for the visually impaired.

Her interest in the subject began in the traditional classroom where, as a computer science instructor, she had several visually impaired students. “I persevered because I picked a topic that was close to my heart. I realized that I couldn’t walk away from (my studies), for the sake of my past and future students with visual impairment.”

Olive Akomas will travel from Umuahia, Nigeria to accept her master’s degree in child and youth care. Her classroom was a lot easier to reach as a student in a “virtual university” for studies in early childhood development.

The virtual university, available in 10 countries in Africa, was developed by Dr. Alan Pence, a professor in the UVic school of child and youth care. Akomas, a community nutritionist focused on reducing her country’s infant mortality and disease rates, heard of the program at a UNICEF workshop.

“When I found out I could still do my job and didn’t have to leave my family, I got interested,” says Akomas. “I was enriched by other learners in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as the resources and information that I received. I believe there’s a brighter future for our children.”

Related news: UVic Fall Convocation - November 10, 12
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Media contacts:
Mike McNeney (UVic Alumni Communications) at (250) 721-7642 or mmcneney@uvic.ca

UVic media releases and other resources for journalists are available on the World Wide Web at http://communications.uvic.ca/media

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