August 25, 2020 —As virtual learning has become the norm for most higher education institutions across the country, the need for an inclusive learning environment has also become paramount. At Colorado State University, there is an Assistive Technology Resource Center (ATRC). Students with disabilities who undergo the accommodations process may receive assistive technology from the ATRC. However, the Student Disability Center (SDC) at Colorado State made it clear that the focus of accommodations is based on barriers and challenges experienced by students; less emphasis is placed on the student’s diagnosis. If, for any reason, there are delays in appointments with the ATRC, the SDC will provide students with temporary accommodations to ensure they can access educational content such as PDF formats of textbooks. The ATRC can be considered a model for other institutions considering how to meet the needs of students with disabilities. They have extensive hardware and software assistive technology for members of the Colorado State community. Two of the most frequently used software include Read&Write and Kurzwell 3000. These systems offer a myriad of accessibility services like text-to-speech, speech-to-text, and picture dictionaries. The ATRC also offers online accessibility support because sometimes faculty members publish inaccessible PDF files. But the ATRC does not stop there. They also train faculty on how to do optical character recognition, which converts a PDF into readable, searchable text. As virtual learning will remain the norm for the foreseeable future, some universities have risen to the occasion to ensure accessibility and inclusion for all students. [Source: Serena Bettis via Collegian]
Colorado State Takes the Lead with Assistive Technology for Virtual Learning
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