by Kim Ann Wardlow, Audio Information Network of Colorado
I’m alternately fascinated and frustrated by technology. Protesters take video with their phones and send it across the world. Scientific and medical breakthroughs occur as technology improves. For example, I have a co-worker who has received cochlear implants and relearned how to hear. I can remember when having a fax machine in the office was high tech so these are pretty amazing developments when I stop to think about them.
The non-profit that I work for, the Audio Information Network of Colorado (AINC), has had great technological changes since I came on staff nearly a decade ago. AINC provides blind, visually impaired, and print disabled individuals audio access to Colorado newspapers, ads, magazines, and other ink print publications. We rely heavily on technology for our digital broadcasts, Information-On-Demand Telephone Reader service, and online services. When the digital conversion happened AINC took part in the development of a digital receiver that can be used by reading services throughout the country. The change in technology is, well, pretty amazing – as long as there are no technical difficulties.
Of course there are technical difficulties whenever new technology is implemented or programs upgraded. I use and appreciate technology but am not the person who has the latest gadget or newest app. While some find a technical difficulty a stimulating challenge, I tend to feel like I’m hitting my head against a brick wall. Very low tech. So I am easily frustrated when technology doesn’t work the way I expect, especially when it is related to my work. I think that we all have something that frustrates us as we try to carry out the mission of our non-profit. It may be funding, logistics, or recruiting volunteers. Some days it may seem like all of the above.
Problems can arise even when you think you have done all of the planning and testing possible before launching a new web site, program, or fundraising campaign. For me this has meant talking to listeners about the technical difficulties and what is being done to resolve them. Not always the easiest conversation, but some positive things have come out of it. I have learned how individuals benefit from the service and what would make it better for them. We conduct a survey every year to capture this type of information, but not everyone responds to surveys. Not only did I learn from the conversations but I had an opportunity to build the relationship between AINC and our listeners.
Solving the problem that I found so frustrating took me back to the reason that I chose to work for a non-profit, people. Day to day we solve technical difficulties, raise funds, provide services, measure outcomes, and write reports. Still, it is the impact that we have on each other’s lives that I find the most motivating and satisfying.
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