2004 Conference Proceedings

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Panel from Oakland Community College (OCC) in Michigan:

Wanda Harris,
PASS Program,
22322 Rutland Drive,
Southfield, MI 48075
Phone: (248)233-2782
Email: wxpernel@oaklandcc.edu

Marcia Kosovec,
PASS Program,
739 S. Washington,
Royal Oak, MI 48067
Phone: (248)246-2451
Email: mmkosov@oaklandcc.edu

Dale Rohrbach
PASS Program
27055 Orchard Lake Rd.
Farmington Hills, MI 48334
Phone: (248)522-3481
Email: dfrohrba@oaklandcc.edu

Mary Ann Sheble,
Library Systems,
2900 Featherstone Rd.,
Auburn Hills, MI 48326
Phone: (248)232-4476
Email: masheble@oaklandcc.edu

Rex Strong,
Instructional Technology (IT),
140 S. Saginaw,
Pontiac, MI 48342
Phone: (248)232-4819
Email: rdstrong@oaklandcc.edu

Oakland Community College (OCC) is the largest community college in the State of Michigan. OCC is a multi-campus system. There is a Disability Service Provider (DSP) and a Library on all five campuses. In addition, a Manager from Instructional Technology (IT) provides technical assistance for assistive technology college wide. Together, we serve over 2000 students, of which more that 500 have a documented disability. Therefore, making computing information accessible to a diverse student population is challenging.

In our panel discussion, we will share our team approach to delivering Assistive Technology services to students with disabilities at OCC. The DSPs work together to ensure comparable, seamless services across campuses, and OCC employees' work with the DSPs to ensure equal educational opportunities for all students across the college.

Universal Design is the concept underlying services and technology for students with disabilities at OCC. Its goal is to provide access to all people with diverse abilities to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. (NC State University, the Center for Universal Design, an initiative of the College of Design, 1997) This approach takes away the stigma of using assistive technology and prompts us to find creative ways to use technology to enrich the lives of all students. Examples of the Universal Design in action at OCC include: JAWS screen reader software, DRAGON voice recognition software, ZOOMTEXT screen magnification product and adjustable workstations for people with mobility impairments are located on all campuses in the Individualized Instructional Center (IIC), Library and Disability Service Office. Electronic books is a favorite of the general OCC student population, our electronic books (e-books) are easy to navigate with JAWS and other screen readers. E-books are fully searchable with keyword phrases and concepts. The gateway to e-books is the library catalog, assessable through the OCC Libraries website (http://oaklandcc.edu/library).

Student with disabilities need to prepare for integration into the everyday social and work world. The focus at OCC is to promote this process at through integrating student with special needs into the general student population. Our students do not want to sit under sign that say "Handicapped" or "Assistive Technology". Adjustable workstations are specifically labeled as such and workstations with ZOOMTEXT, JAWS, DRAGON and other assistive technology are specifically labeled with the names of the software. Whenever possible, assistive technology is fully integrated into routine operations and is marketed to allow us to serve students with a broad range of abilities.

Thinking ahead, IT is looking at the possibilities for networking our assistive technology used by people with disabilities. This will benefit students and staff in three specific ways. First, timely distribution of program revisions. Secondly, integrated features on server based programs allow for us to have the latest versions of the assistive technology. Braille translators occur at one time. Each new version brings greater functionality and integration with operating systems as well, making them easier to service and maintain.

Finally, customized installations will be possible for individual users with network Ids allowing users to log onto any workstation. In addition, customization makes it possible for staff and students to use specialized software like Colleague and Blackboard that do not work well with assistive technology right out of the box.

The Disability Service Office plans to revamp its website to include a list of adaptive technologies at OCC and the specific location of each item. Training for staff, making rich media accessible, and communication with faculty and students to keep them informed of opportunities are ongoing tasks to ensure that all OCC students can participate equally in the educational process.

OCC has a multi-disciplinary Assistive Technology Committee that is chaired by the Vice Chancellor. This committee needs to be re-established to guide and support the college in providing equal access to electronic and information technology for students with disabilities. This committee recommends policy changes in regards to instructional and student services in compliance with ADA, and Section 504/508.

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