12 | January 16, 2020 | 22nd century media Hadley at 100 22ndCenturyMedia.com Technology: Past, Present and Future Technology has had a powerful impact on the lives of people who are blind and visually impaired— and on the possibilities for distance learning. For the past century, Hadley has been on the forefront of these developments, embracing technology to improve our ability to reach and teach those in need of our services, and to enhance the quality and experience of the learning it provides. The Early Years In the 1920s, when Hadley was first founded, braille textbooks were produced one-at-a-time on braille writers, making for a timeand labor-intensive process. In these early days, William Hadley wrote and produced most of these himself, even once more staff was hired to assist. So, when braille presses came on the scene in the 1930s, it was transformative for the school. The ability to produce textbooks much more efficiently enabled Hadley to expand its student base and course offerings. Alfred Allen was hired in 1922 to be William Hadley’s “right hand man” and manage the business affairs of the school. Allen was also an innovator who developed a braille press with an accompanying stereotyping machine that produced zinc plates from which the books could be printed. This sped up production of textbooks so the school could keep pace with the growing demand. Allen also pioneered the idea of the “Talking Book” in the 1930s, which sent recordings and record players to students. Since many students did not yet have access to electricity, these machines were spring loaded. This initiative inspired the Talking Book program the Library of Congress launched later, which loaned electric players to students to use. When Hadley’s new building was constructed in 1957, it included an audio recording studio. This gave the school the ability and flexibility to produce these learning materials in-house. It also brought many broadcasting personalities, such as Shirley Cole of “Little Orphan Annie” fame, to Hadley to record course material. In the late 1950s, the Thermoform Braille Duplicator revolutionized printing. Books could be produced for a fraction of the cost of printing them on a large braille press and materials could be updated more efficiently and easily. Hadley updated its recording studio in the 1980s, enabling learning materials to be captured and shared on cassette tape. Celebrities, such as Sammy Davis, Jr. and George Shearing, read and recorded books and magazines for Hadley. Future enhancements including a teleprompter, powerful computers and digital sound editing software allowed Hadley staff to digitally master, edit and duplicate recordings in house. Hadley’s early braille reproduction machines were simple presses with zinc plates. Personal Computers and the Internet The 1990s brought the personal computer and, since then, the speed of technology has accelerated exponentially to open new doors and opportunities for people who are blind and visually impaired. One of the most significant developments was the screen reader, a software program that enables a blind or visually impaired user to read text on a computer screen Charles Shipley, Hadley recording studio engineer, records Shirley Cole, a wellknown Chicago broadcaster who voiced Annie on the “Little Orphan Annie” radio show, in 1957 with a speech synthesizer or braille display. This allowed Hadley students and teachers to correspond and share materials electronically. While computers and screen readers were prohibitively expensive for many in the early years, today, nearly every program has major accessibility options built right in. Then came the Internet. Hadley launched online learning, or Please see future, 13 Hadley creates personalized learning opportunities that empower people with vision loss to thrive – at home, at work and in their communities. CONGRATULATIONS on 100 years of helping people thrive! Hadley Capital invests to help small companies achieve their goals with ahighly collaborative approach and along-term view.