TECH-NJ: 2000, Vol 11., No. 1
The editors of TECH-NJ are pleased to announce that The College of New Jersey has been awarded a five-year grant by the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education to serve as an assistive technology resource center for all of the colleges and universities in the state. The mission of the newly named Adaptive Technology Center for New Jersey Colleges is to increase opportunities for college students who have disabilities to meet the academic demands of college through access to appropriate technology tools. Typically these technology tools assist with the tasks of notetaking, writing papers, accessing information on the internet, using email, and/or communicating with faculty.
The center provides three major services: information dissemination, equipment loans, and outreach and training.
Information on hardware, software, and exemplary uses of assistive technology will be provided to college faculty, disability support services staff, and college students with disabilities through the print version of TECH-NJ and on the internet at a new web site: www.tcnj.edu/~technj/atcenter. The web site contains a bulletin board which will enable college students with disabilities to post their experiences and opinions about the various technology tools they have tried and to read how others have "reviewed" a product they are considering.
Adaptive Technology Lending Program
The Adaptive Technology Center for New Jersey Colleges maintains an inventory of hardware, software, and assistive devices which can be borrowed by New Jersey college students who have disabilities for a trial period.
The Adaptive Technology Lending Program is designed to provide a trial period for students to determine if a particular technology tool is helpful. It is a short-term loan program, with most equipment being loaned for a period of one semester. When a technology tool is found that meets a student's needs and is needed for on-going coursework, the expectation is that the student's institution will assume responsibility for providing that reasonable accommodation. If needed, the Adaptive Technology Center will provide technical assistance to colleges regarding the purchasing of new hardware and software.
Equipment loans are arranged with staff in the Disability Support Services Office of each college/university. Each college/university needs to submit a signed College Lending Agreement for the current school year before loans can be arranged. Students who would like to borrow an item from the Lending Program need to sign and submit a Student Lending Agreement. Both of these forms can be submitted electronically from the web site at www.tcnj.edu/~technj/atcenter/two_forms.htm
Outreach and Training
The staff of the Adaptive Technology Center for New Jersey Colleges is available for training workshops at colleges around the state to increase awareness of adaptive technology among students with disabilities, faculty, and disability support services staff. For example, last November a demonstration of Technology Tools for College Students with Learning Disabilities was presented at the New Jersey City University's Annual Conference on Learning Disabilities and Higher Education. The services of the center were also described at a workshop on transitioning from high school to college which was held at Middlesex County College in October.
Technology Tools for Students with Learning Disabilities
College students with learning disabilities often have difficulty with all of the writing that is required in college. They may find that a talking word- processing program such as Write Out:Loud (Don Johnston) and a word prediction program such as Co:Writer (Don Johnston) facilitate the writing process. Or they may wish to try a "dictation" program (speech recognition) such as Dragon Naturally Speaking (Dragon Systems) . Students who have difficulty organizing their thoughts on paper may benefit from a graphic organizer such as Inspiration (Inspiration Software) [See review]. For students with learning disabilities who need help with notetaking, lightweight, durable and inexpensive notetakers like the AlphaSmart 2000 (Intelligent Peripheral Devices) may be a good alternative to heavy, fragile, expensive laptops. (See story).
Many college students with disabilities find the reading demands of college to be daunting. Several software programs can turn a computer into a "reading machine." CAST eReader (CAST) will read aloud and highlight any electronic text such as a word- processing file or internet site. Used in conjunction with a scanner, it will also read aloud any printed text, as will theL & H Kurzweil 3000 (Kurzweil Educational Systems).
Hardware and Software for Blind Users
College students who are blind have several options for writing, notetaking and reading. Braille users may choose the Braille Lite 2000 (Blazie Engineering) which is a very small notetaker which uses a Braille keyboard, refreshable Braille display, and speech output. Other blind students may prefer the Type 'n Speak 2000 (Blazie Engineering) which uses the standard QWERTY keyboard with speech output. Both connect to computers for file transfers and to printers for Braille and text printouts. Most blind college students need a screen reading program for computer and internet use, such as JAWS (Henter-Joyce), Window-Eyes (GW Micro), or Zoom Text Xtra 7.0 (Ai Squared), and most will need a printed text reading program such as the L & H Kurzweil 1000 (Kurzweil Educational Systems).
For Students with Visual Impairments
College students who have visual impairments will likely need a screen magnification program for computer use such as Zoom Text Xtra Level 1 (Ai Squared) or MAGic (Henter-Joyce). They may also need a video magnifier (previously called a closed-circuit television) for enlarging text from printed materials, such as the Aladdin (Telesensory) line of black and white and color systems.
Special Equipment for Math and Science
Students with visual impairments who are registered for biology classes may borrow a video microscope from the Lending Program. This is a high quality microscope equipped with a video camera which enlarges the specimen on an attached video monitor. In math and science courses students who are blind or visually impaired may need to use a talking scientific calculator.
Technology for Students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
College students who are hard of hearing may require an assistive listening device. These devices, which may use FM radio waves or infrared technology, amplify sound in a classroom.
Students who are deaf or hard of hearing often can benefit from easy access to email for the purposes of communicating with college faculty and staff. They may also wish to try C-Print, which is a new system which uses a trained typist for note-taking. The Mid-Atlantic Postsecondary Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students at Camden County College offers the software and training for C-Print captionists.
These technology tools assist college students who have disabilities with the tasks of notetaking, writing papers, accessing information on the internet, using email, and communicating with faculty.
Regional Centers at NJ Colleges
The Adaptive Technology Center for New Jersey Colleges works closely with seven other Special Needs Regional Centers around the state which are also funded by the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education. The regional centers at Ocean County College, Middlesex County College, Cumberland County College, Fairleigh Dickinson University, and New Jersey City University provide support services to college students who have learning disabilities. The regional centers at Camden County College and Bergen Community College provide supports for college students who are deaf/hard of hearing. This system of regional centers began in 1986 when the New Jersey legislature passed a law called the Higher Education Services for Visually Impaired, Auditorily Impaired (sic) and Learning Disabled Students Act.
Adaptive Technology Center for New Jersey Colleges
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