Voice of the Editor

Bob Eee wrote:

In what way does the SWC NL serve a unique component of the SWC? We have a bulletin board, we have chats, we have e-mail lists, we have SWC Cons, and so, what do we need the NL for? Or is the SWC NL simply just more of the same?

Mark Dessert wrote:

Well, Bob,

It would seem that the purpose of the SWC newsletter has evolved over the years. Back before you snagged me for the Administrative Committee in '96, the intent of the newsletter was to provide a common forum for all SWC members, across the lists that existed at that time (which were only SWCForum and SWConnect). It also presented issues to SWC members in a manner that was intended to provoke discussion on the lists. And regardless of how we might feel about the two, reading information for pleasure or education from a newsletter is completely different from participating in email discussion.

For you not-so-new newbies, the original SWC newsletter was delivered monthly to all SWC members in the form of an email. Only much later, as the SWC web page was developed, did it get published on the web. And when that happened, it was kept to the members-only area, password protected to guarantee confidentiality of SWC members whose work appeared in it (as their confidentiality is guaranteed on the list).

Later on again, the SWC newsletter evolved. Under the editorship of Kate Johnston, the name was changed to SayWhatClub Online Voices, and the new newsletter was moved to the public area of the SWC web page.

So Bob, in my most humble opinion, the evolution of Online Voices points to its use today not just by members of the SWC, but also by _ALL_ visitors to the SWC web page. In that perspective, I would suggest that Online Voices' mission be that of ambassador to the world, enticing visitors to the SWC web site to contact the Hospitality Committee and seek to join.

I've mentioned this to the BOD before. Over the years, I've lost count of how many newbies have contacted me to tell me that the reason they joined SWC was because of reading my essay "Why I Walk" published on the SWC web page. I am not tooting my own horn here. I am simply pointing out one very under-utilized resource to encourage those searching the web for hearing loss help to consider joining SWC.

Both the essays permanently published, and Online Voices ought to have some sort of eye-catching announcement of their presence on the SWC home page. Something that would be noticed right away by a web surfer to arouse their curiosity to check and see what is there. Online Voices, especially, has the potential to evoke a sense of deep positive regard for SWC in the mind of a stranger looking for hearing loss help. What better way to secure their interest than to show them who we all are?

Those are my thoughts and feelings about the mission of SayWhatClub Online Voices, Bob. I hope that once others have had their say, you might also share with us your feelings.

Sheila Hitchens responds:

The NL is another way to tie us all together. I'm a member of Connect. I don't get to access the chats due to my work schedule and other commitments. I have yet to get to a Con--and even though the SeaCon is in my back yard, it conflicts with a class I am teaching at Western Oregon University this summer, so I can't go. This leaves my only connection with SWC being my home list if the NL goes away. I'm not the only member who could tell this story, I am sure.

Yes, there are many ways for SWCers to connect...but the NL is one way to ensure that all members have access to perspectives from OUTSIDE their home list. I see it as a valuable and vital part of keeping the group together.

Does that help?

Theresa Thrasher writes:

Bob there's no submit button on top or bottom. I think all the ideas are good and if it were I I would stagger them in different issues. I would also use an article on one of them and ask for questions that you can use in another issue. As for what else, I was amazed at the responses (even though few) at the stories that came from the responses to my question that lead to my article, I would love to see more stories about the members in depth and I would love to help write some of them. As for what do I want - Selfish, wants it all.

Elaine Procida writes:

Hi Bob:

I think the main reason for a newsletter is to bring together people who may only be on only one list and make them feel more a part of SWC whole. I, myself, never (unless you call me ha ha) use chat and have not looked at the BB yet so for people like me, it does serve a purpose

Then, since it is open for anyone to read, it is important for non-members to learn something about our group.

Sarah Trefz responds:

Elaine, I agree with you...especially for non-members to learn something about us, and find support. I am one of those who saw the web page, read a little of the newsletter, and joined...and have not looked back since!

Martha Sabin writes:

Some of us like our reading to be very productive and I feel a newsletter with thoughtful articles and comments really does fill that niche.

SWC Newsletter Poll Results In Great Feedback

In March 2003, SWC members on all lists were asked to participate in a poll regarding Online Voices, the SWC newsletter. Fifty members from around the globe cast their votes, giving very helpful and appreciated feedback on how they envisioned future editions of the newsletter being structured.

Each of the SWC lists was represented in the response group. Connect had the highest number of respondents, with 13. Eight World members shared their points of view. Friends and Network were close behind with 7 members from each list taking the time to answer. Six Vistas members chimed in, five members represented Forum's viewpoint. Two people from CI and two from Our Children rounded out the group nicely.

With respect to location, Texas had the largest number of respondents (8), followed closely by Florida (6). Eighteen other US states were represented as well. Two Canadians participated, as did one person in Great Britain and one person in Australia.

When asked about five new column ideas, 28% of the responses showed a preference for a focus on interpersonal relationships (family, work, friends). Assistive equipment for people with hearing loss was a close second, with 25% of the responses. Employment issues were also a priority; 19% felt they merit column space. Vocational Rehabilitation services and educational issues (ranging from Kindergarten through Ph.D level study) were also of interest, both scoring 14% each.

Members were also asked to provide their own ideas for information they would like to see in the newsletter. Advocacy, CART/Captioning, online Hearing Loss resources, legislation and coping skills were all very common responses.

Format was also an area of question. The majority of answers given showed a preference for a mix of "traditional" columns, where the author presents information on a particular subject in a narrative form, and "Q & A" columns, where the author answers specific questions with shared subject matter. Several members stated that the "Q & A" format is easier to understand and gives specific information that can be quickly read. Those who completed the survey overwhelmingly stated that a mix of "fact and fiction" or experience/opinion was preferred, once again showing that SWC Members want access to facts and data, but also want to have an outlet for more creative and informal means of expression.

The Online Voices staff would like to again thank each of the members who shared their preferences, hopes and vision for future editions of the newsletter. We'll be taking the information you provided and working to adopt as much of it into our format and content as we can. If you have an interest in writing an occasional column or know of a SWCer who would be a good resource/columnist, please let us know! We're looking forward to making your ideas come to life on the pages of SWC Online Voices.

Survey Conducted and Summarized by Sheila Hitchens