by: Amy G. Dell
We are very pleased that the Adaptive Technology Center for New Jersey Colleges, along with six other Regional Centers, has been awarded support from the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education to continue operation for another five years. The regional center at Bergen Community College specializes in accommodations for students who are deaf or hard of hearing, and the other five regional centers provide comprehensive supports to college students who have learning disabilities. The Adaptive Technology Center, through information dissemination, training, and an equipment loan program, focuses on the use of assistive technology to help students with disabilities meet the academic demands of college. All seven centers are able to provide information and technical assistance to colleges around the state. Contact information for all seven Regional Centers is provided on the back cover of this TECH-NJ.
To celebrate the continued support of the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education’s Special Needs Program, this 2010 issue of TECH-NJ highlights the important role assistive technology can play in making college accessible to students who have disabilities. The User Profile on page 3 describes how assistive technology, coupled with a reourceful mentor, is enabling a young man who is blind to pursue a career goal in computer science. The mentor, Professor Peter DePasquale, is the focus of our cover story – the first time TECH-NJ has featured the efforts of a faculty member. Dr. DePasquale is a perfect example of what can be accomplished when a person does not question whether something can be done, but instead, focuses his efforts on figuring out how it can be accomplished.
The topic of assistive technology in college is also addressed in the article on pages 8-9 of this issue. The Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology in Post-Secondary Education (QIAT-PS) present a helpful framework for considering the responsibility of students to advocate for themselves and of college personnel to encourage self-advocacy as it relates to assistive technology use. No matter how dazzling new gadgets and gizmos may be, technology in isolation will not increase a student’s success in college. Appropriate technology tools must be combined with strong self-advocacy skills and a campus culture of inclusiveness and technical support.
The new products highlighted in this issue of TECH-NJ hold tremendous potential for college students with disabilities, as well as high school students and adults. Ginger is a ground-breaking software program that corrects spelling, grammar, and word use in one package. MindView is a sophisticated graphic organizing program from Denmark, and the Livescribe Pulse SmartPen offers a powerful option for taking notes in class and reviewing them at a later time.
Readers who are interested in learning about the laws that relate to students with disabilities in college are directed to an earlier TECH-NJ article that is available at
www.tcnj.edu/~technj/2004/transition.htm. Readers who would like information on planning for the transition from high school to college will find the following articles helpful:
Gaining Confidence for College: One Person’s Journey
Planning for College Success
Moving On: Three New Jersey College Students Make the Transition
Advice for High School Students