What's the word, hummingbird?

Thank you to Cindy Hurley, alternative format supervisor

by Elizabeth Jenike, IT Services

If you visit the AccessMU Center on the top floor of the Shriver Center, the first smiling face you see belongs to Cindy Hurley.

Let’s meet her!

Cindy Hurley (right), holding a camera and wearing a pink t-shirt, looks at a bird on the blacktop road (left) with a smile.

Cindy, the alternative format supervisor for AccessMU, has worked for Miami for close to 38 years now. She started in the erstwhile Print Center as a supervisor in 1983, then taking on the responsibilities of creating alternative text formats for Student Disability Services -- eventually leading to her job with what we now know as AccessMU.

Her day-to-day activities involve preparing alternative-format documents for students with disabilities. This essentially means that she reviews textbooks, course packets, and course materials to ensure they have electronic versions that can be accessed via screen reader or other accessibility tool, like Read & Write software.

“If the textbook is not available for purchase as an e-text,” she said, “I will contact the publisher to request electronic files for the student making the request.”

She also oversees the conversion of imaged PDF documents into desired formats, and supports University departments by remediating documents for website posting, along with managing student employees interested in the inner workings of the AccessMU Center.

“My favorite part of the job is working with the student staff and the staff in our office,” she said. “We have a great team in the Access MU Center.”

Accessing the future

Some of Cindy's favorite birdsAfter so many years of success with Miami and with helping students gain the education they deserve, Cindy is retiring at the end of this month.

“Cindy was actually the first member of the accessibility team in IT Services when she took over the alternative format process from Student Disability Services,” said Sean Poley, director of accessible technology for AccessMU. “She helped us get the AccessMU Center off the ground. Her institutional knowledge and ability to work with everyone across campus have been invaluable. Cindy is an integral part of our AcessMU team and she will be missed!”

"Cindy has been an integral part of our office, and we will miss her dearly," said Laura Fathauer, web content accessibility specialist. "Our conversations in the morning were a great start to the day. She has been a great advocate for supporting students and student workers. She is a true Miamian."

And what kinds of activities is Cindy going to get into when she retires?

She loves birding! This is a hobby enjoyed by more than 47 million people across the country, according to the Audubon Society, and Cindy has won competitions based on how many birds you can see in a certain period of time.

“I have a life list of 400 species, which is a list of birds that I have seen for the very first time,” she said. “There are 350 more birds that live in the U.S. I would like to see during my retirement, which starts at the end of this month. That means traveling to a number of states where these birds live.”

Next on the list? A trip to Oregon to see Puffins during their breeding season -- a trip that had been shelved thanks to the pandemic. She’s excited to make Oregon the 50th state she has visited after she retires at the end of February and after the threat of COVID-19 has passed.

Cash, PennyLane, and Louie, posing for a photoHer love of animals doesn’t end with birds. Cindy is also the godmother to three lucky pups: a two-year-old black lab named Cash and two four-year-old pugs, PennyLane and Louis. She is going to attend classes with PennyLane so that the pug can become a therapy dog.

“PennyLane loves people and I would love to help her get this job,” she said. “Cash is presently in training and doing a superb job moving towards his achievement to being a therapy dog.”

We are going to miss you, Cindy, but we know you’re going to continue to do amazing things and touch the hearts and lives of the people (and animals!) you meet.