Fostering Greater Independence through Technology
An assistive technology device is “any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of an individual with a disability (Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act, 2004).” The Assistive Technology Program at Disability Services has been growing steadily, and the students’ use of these services has seen an increase in the recent times. The aim of the program is to provide technological solutions to students with disabilities to help them enhance or improve their functional capabilities and to foster greater independence.
As a part of this program, Disability Services offers a variety of assistive technology to registered students in the form of both hardware and software. Students can borrow hardware from the office or use software provided through the office that they feel supports their academic success free of charge. Some of the most commonly borrowed equipment during the fall of 2016 included audio recorders for recording class lectures and smart pens which aided students in better notetaking. In addition to these devices, the office has portable magnifiers, assistive listening equipment, trackballs and more that students can borrow in order to improve their functional capabilities. Portable magnifiers are hand-held devices useful for students who have low vision and who are able to see text or diagrams when they are enlarged. Assistive equipment is also available at the library for any Georgia State University student to borrow if they wish to explore the possible benefits of assistive technology.
Disability Services’ assistive technology program allows students to access an array of assistive software on computers in many locations around campus. The software that is provided includes screen readers, dictation software, screen magnification software and text to speech software. Students may use this software to access their textbooks that they receive in alternative formats. The text to speech software is software that reads aloud text to students while simultaneously highlighting it which helps students with learning or reading disabilities focus and comprehend better. The provision of course materials in alternative formats is also facilitated by Disability Services. The office processes a large number of students’ requests for these materials every semester.
Registered students have the option of receiving assistive technology training through the assistive technology program, regardless of whether they are first time users of assistive technology equipment or existing users who just need more practice and guidance in order to feel comfortable with their ability to handle the hardware or software. Whether students would like to know more about the technology that is available for them to use, check out equipment or simply explore whether or not there are assistive devices that meet their needs, the office is happy to help. For any questions regarding assistive technology services or to schedule a demo or training, please contact the office location closest to you.