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Education Is Now More Accessible to More Students

photo of David Chien, Leon Hart, David Castillo
The Assistive Technology Server, developed by (from left) David Chien, LCET, Leon Hart, DSC, and Freddie Castillo, LCET, offers special help to our students with disabilities. This innovation provides a new approach to accessibility where the majority of our networked computers will have the software installed and ready to go.
By David Wood
 
When I first started working with assistive technology, it was not uncommon for a college to purchase one computer with one screen reader license and push that computer to each classroom, library and technology lab as needed. This computer, placed on a cart, would bounce across campus, and dedicated tech support would have to hook up the computer, crossing their fingers that it would work. That was considered progress in those days.
Now, we have the ability to accommodate our growing population of students, including veterans, who have disabilities with technology on demand as they visit various technology-driven rooms across the district.
Once implemented, our Assistive Technology Server will make available to each of our colleges the ability to provide assistive software that helps students who are blind to access the computer and Internet. Also, the server makes available software for low-vision and color-blind students and students with learning disabilities such as dyslexia. One software package, WYNN, is ideal for ESL labs serving students learning English as a second language.
Though this will be limited to DCCCD-owned computers, the software can be made readily available in computer labs, classrooms, libraries and learning labs on any Windows-based networked computer.
Gone will be the days of one computer labeled “ADA Computer” with outdated software. We are ushering in a new approach where the majority of our networked computers will have the software installed and ready to go.
Online Initiatives
In addition to the advancements we have made in making assistive software available to our district, the DCCCD is working with online instructors providing them with presentations, workshops and accessibility checklists on how to make their online and traditional classroom courses accessible to all students.
It is the goal of the DCCCD to serve our community “near and far” providing a more universally designed course format for both the traditional classroom and the ever-growing online community. Doing so helps us meet the needs of all students interested in a quality education and experience while participating in DCCCD courses. We look forward to being a part of our students’ success and a great future ahead!
A big thanks to our DCCCD and LeCroy Tech Support, members of the FAST Team and Disability Services Office for their assistance, insight and support on this project.
David Wood is the Faculty Access to Supportive Technology (FAST) Team LeCroy IT access coordinator.