As part of Disability Awareness Week at Salt Lake Community College, the Disability Resource Center recently showcased assistive technologies at the South City Campus through a technology fair.
“Our goal is just to help raise awareness at Salt Lake Community College about what technology does for people with disabilities, and how it levels the playing field for our students,” says Candida Darling, Director of SLCC’s Disability Resource Center (DRC).
One of the organizations featuring assistive technologies at the fair was the Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired with the Utah State Office of Rehabilitation.
“What we are doing here today is demonstrating technology products that can help people with blindness or visual impairments succeed in college,” says Everett Bacon, Assistive Technology Specialist with Utah Office of Rehabilitation.
Bacon, who himself is visually impaired, had a variety of technological devices on display at his table including a reading machine.He demonstrated the machine by taking a picture of the brochure they were handing out to students. The machine then automatically began reading the contents of the brochure in a clear automated male voice that was evenly paced as if someone next to you was reading it.
Some students with disabilities at SLCC already implement these technologies on a regular basis.
“I’m blind and I use things such as screen readers,” says Mac Biggars, a Computer Science and Math Education major at SLCC. “I’m able to scan my handouts from class or my books into my computer and be able to access them just as efficiently, if not easier than most of my fellow students can.”
The Utah Center for Assistive Technology (UCAT) had a table that received a lot of attention with its equipment that provides alternative access to computers. The equipment included a HeadMouse Extreme that works by the user donning a head band that interacts with a camera attached to the top of a computer. The user can then control the cursor on the screen of the computer via head movement.
“We are under Vocational Rehab for the State of Utah and that is people’s best avenue to help them pay for some of the costs,” says Kevin Christensen a UCAT representative. “Often the cost can be high……that mount is pretty expensive….anything to do with disability can be quite expensive.”
The DRC was used by over 3,500 students last year. Many of the students had disabilities that their classmates could not see such as learning disabilities. The DRC has offices at both the South City Campus and Taylorsville Redwood Campus.