ITS student computer lab – assisted technology upgrades

IT Services (ITS) recently partnered with the Chancellor’s Committee on the ADA (CADA) and the UA Little Rock Disability Resource Center (DRC) in their goal of working with the campus community to ensure that physical, curricular, and web environments are designed to be barrier-free to the extent possible.

ITS operates a large student computer lab consisting of eighty computers located on the first floor of the Ottenheimer library. ITS has dedicated a portion of the lab to students with Assisted Technology (AT) requirements in an effort to accommodate their needs. Students who use alternative methods of communication rely on the lab to provide them with technology tools that enables them to complete their assignments and achieve academic success.   

Until recently, students with disabilities that require special technological equipment, shared time on a limited number of workstations that functioned with standard accessibility tools such as Jaws, Read Me, Magic, Dragon, and more.

Overflow issues were common and caused the lab to rotate an average of four students per hour with usage often exceeding capacity during peak hours. This scenario led to frustrations and lowered student success.

With funding from ITS and CADA, along with guidance from DRC, the AT lab has been has upgraded and refreshed prior to the Fall of 2018 to provide the best learning experience for all students, regardless of any challenges they may face. Outdated AT equipment was replaced and some additional tools recommended by DRC, were added.

The improvements include:

  • Nine new desktop computers capable of handling AT software
  • Two additional copies of Dragon Naturally Speaking software
  • A text-to-speech scanner to quickly convert printed text to spoken speech (SARA CE)
  • A refreshable braille display (Focus 40 Blue – 5th Generation)

These upgrades have empowered ITS to help students with AT needs obtain the resources they desire in a quick and efficient manner. ITS is working closely with DRC to provide staff training on how to use the existing and new accessibility tools to best fulfill the needs of AT students.

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