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Resources and Tools Abound Through Center for Assistive Technology
05.04.16 |

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Moving from the obscure depths of the Administration Building/Humanities Center to a brand new suite in Lebegern Learning Commons, the Center for Disability Resources has certainly found prime real estate on campus. Now, they are expanding resources and boasting some top of the line learning tools available, including their new Center for Assistive Technology (CAT).

CAT, made possible by President’s Innovation Fund and Breen Technology Fund grants, was first unveiled in November. Unlike many other campuses, LVC’s assistive technology is available to all students regardless of whether students have a documented disability. This innovative program was implemented to help any LVC student with a desire to use technology to improve academic skills.

For instance, the idea of recording a lecture for future listening is an old one, not to mention the rigors of finding a specific segment later on. With the new LiveScribe pens, students can record lectures, starting and stopping based on their note taking, and use digital icons in a special notebook. The pens were the most popular item during the fall semester, with 14 students borrowing the pens on short-term loan. Overall, since the CAT opened, more than 40 students have borrowed equipment or sought advice on using technology as a learning tool. As an added benefit, students can try the assistive technology to determine how it may help them before purchasing devices or software for themselves.

Today, the assistive technology program is stronger than ever. The Center for Disability Resources has compiled an extensive database of the technology, including brief videos regarding how to use the items featured through the Center for Assisted Technology. Much of the information is publicly available thanks to the investigative efforts of Dr. Jennifer Kanupka, assistant professor of education, and her Supporting High Incidence Disabilities class.

Dr. Kanupka spoke about her efforts to spread the word about assistive technology in her class. “Each student selects a piece of technology, or researches new technology, and creates a video or written guide to the item that they chose,” she said.

With students studying the technology and even presenting at the CAT open house in November, Dr. Kanupka has expanded her class’s research further, encouraging her students to investigate the effects of long-term assistive technology use, as well as the effect that the technology has on younger students. Her students have responded favorably, with some noting that they have witnessed assistive technology at work in schools in which they have observed during field experiences.

Other pieces of technology include word prediction software, iPads with specialized apps, text-to-speech applications, and concept mapping software. Moreover, Dr. Showers, the director of disability resources, hopes to expand the collection to help more students. Similarly, Abby Leidigh ’17, student coordinator for the CAT, wishes to serve additional hours next fall. As an education major, she feels that there is a need for additional academic support structures—and the CAT lab may very well be the support that students need to excel.

Leidigh, a special education major, can attest to the impact that some of the items have made on students. She and Dr. Showers work with students who sign out technology during each semester. Some students complete a voluntary questionnaire called the VARK (Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing, Kinesthetic), which helps determine a preferred learning style and the appropriate device or software that would be most beneficial.

“The Center for Writing and Tutoring Resources, one of our implementation partners, hasn’t had anything like this before,” said Leidigh.

All special education majors can enroll in an Assistive Technology class at LVC, where they will use many of the tools available in the CAT lab.

The CAT lab hosts visiting hours on Thursdays from 4 to 5 p.m. during the semester. In addition to accumulating more technology, the next steps for the initiative are to increase student awareness of the technology resources available in the lab and, more importantly, assuring that students are able to use these technologies to improve academic performance.


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