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April 28, 2006
CONTACT: Leigh Soltis
734.487.4400
lsoltis@emich.edu

EMU student uses visual impairment to benefit Voice of America

YPSILANTI — Many people have a hard enough time navigating in Washington, D.C. But for Eastern Michigan University student Meagan Daniels, traveling the city is even harder. Instead of relying on maps and street signs, Daniels, who is blind, relies on her cane and the help of people on the street.

However, her limitation is an asset to her job.

Daniels, 21, is learning about marketing and communications as an intern at Voice of America (VOA) in Washington, D.C. The communications major from Lathrup Village is participating in the Washington Center’s competitive internship program, thanks to an $8,000 scholarship from the American Association for People with Disabilities.

Daniels does Internet research for VOA, an agency that broadcasts news and information in 44 languages through the Internet, television and radio. In addition, she creates personas, imaginary users based on data collected from real users. The personas help VOA design the Web site to accommodate a variety of people.

“I provide VOA with a user prospective that they would not get otherwise,” said Daniels. “I tell them how to make screen readers work better with their text-only Web sites. Someone who hasn’t seen a screen reader wouldn’t know.”

With two more years left before she graduates, Daniels still isn’t sure what career she would like in the future.

“A major in communications is so flexible, you can do so many things with it,” said Daniels.

She feels that her internship will give her an advantage when she finally does figure out what she wants to do.

“I think it will help me be competitive when I go into the job market,” said Daniels. “It’s fun too, especially [creating] the personas.”

Daniels has been provided with assisted technology, such as a screen reader on her laptop that reads the words out loud for her. Her apartment has been adapted to include Braille on the oven, washer and dryer.

Daniels is one of 450 interns selected for the Washington Center’s program, which places students in internships in government, business and non-profit organizations in Washington, D.C. In addition to the full-time internship, students attend weekly seminars featuring veteran media professionals and government leaders.

Eastern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive university that offers programs in the arts, sciences and professions. EMU prepares students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences to succeed in their careers and lives, and to be better citizens.

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Eastern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive university that offers programs in the arts, sciences and professions. EMU prepares students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences to succeed in their career and lives, and to be better citizens.

Editor's Note: Looking for an expert source for a story? Check out EMU's Eastern Experts online at www.emich.edu/univcomm/easternexperts.


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