The yearbook team of Philips Academy, a special needs middle- and high school located in Charlotte, North Carolina, is collaborating with Entourage Yearbooks this year to create a yearbook that can be enjoyed by all. Kris Shields and Deborah Hofland, representatives from the school and leaders of the project, are looking forward to the opportunities that Entourage's technology will provide. As the mission of Philips Academy is to empower students and prepare them to live and work independently, this year’s team is particularly excited about Entourage’s QR Code Generator – a new tool that will make the yearbook more accessible to all members of the school community.
Cindy, a visually impaired student at Philips Academy, used to need assistance to enjoy her image-based yearbook. This year, for the first time, she will be able to experience her yearbook independently. With Entourage's QR Code Generator, each page will incorporate audio that Cindy can scan and play on her smartphone. In addition to photos and text, each page will feature the voice of a student who will provide a self-written description of the page as well as additional information. The narrations will provide an opportunity for each child to add a personal touch, as well as to practice their communication skills. Shields and Hofland note that the same method can also be used by larger schools, if they record by class rather than by student.
Shields and Hofland worked with their school’s Braille teacher to find a location on each page where QR codes could be placed consistently. In the end, they decided to place the codes on the bottom right-hand corner of the pages, because a visually impaired individual can find that corner more easily – and students will still be able to dog-ear a page if needed.
For Cindy, the addition of audio to her school's yearbook is significant. She will finally be able to appreciate the content of every page independently – just like the school's mission states. Elias Jo, CEO of Entourage Yearbooks, remarked: “We're excited to be part of Cindy's journey. The team at Philips Academy is truly the future of yearbooks."