Anderson, Indiana

AU students revamp Web site for children with hearing challenges

Mon, 2010-04-12 07:45 -- univcomm
April 12, 2010

Students in the senior capstone computer science class at Anderson University are revamping the Web site for Dr. Wonder's Workshop, a Christian television show aimed at children who are deaf or have hearing challenges. The show is produced by Silent Blessings.

Dr. Wonder's WorkshopAlthough the show has had great success, the Web site was in need of improvement.

“The Dr. Wonder’s Web site has been stagnant for quite some time," said the Rev. Marshall Lawrence, executive director of Silent Blessings. "We got a good start, but the people who designed it for us didn’t leave much room for growth and change.”

Now the Web site is getting some assistance from students at AU. The class divided into groups, each taking on a different part of the Web site.

“We are working on the ‘Kid’s Club’ section," said Zach Gray, a senior computer science major. "The kids will be able to log in and have access to different games, print out activities, coloring pages, and lessons that teach American Sign Language (ASL).”

However, it’s not enough to simply change the Web site. The class wanted to make the site easier to navigate for the administrator, so necessary changes could be made quickly.

“It was actually a simple, straightforward design,” said Rembert Parker, assistant professor of computer science. “For example, now a movie clip is automatically found and uploaded to the Web site once it is posted on YouTube.”

Lawrence and his wife founded Silent Blessings in 1996. The couple’s youngest daughter is deaf, and it was difficult for the family to find Christian resources for her. They founded the organization to make it easier for families to communicate with their children who are deaf. Dr. Wonder’s Workshop is filmed mainly on-site at Silent Blessings, and the cast is made up of all deaf adults.

“We help bring healing to families in three different ways: we educate, advocate, and create,” said Lawrence. “We educate by letting the hearing church know of the need. We advocate by working with congregations that want to develop deaf outreach programs. And we create by designing resources, such as Dr. Wonder’s Workshop, that can be utilized by families with deaf children.”

Although the Web site is not yet finished, it is already better than before.

“There is still a lot of work to be done. It might be something we work on even next semester,” said Gray. “But I think it’s good to do something with the computer science knowledge I have and contribute to helping society.”

— Missi Martin is a junior from Goshen, Ind., majoring in communication arts. Martin is an associate with Fifth Street Communications, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2009, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the sixth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.