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An Assistive Technology Lab To Open At Iowa State For Students With Disabilities

Christopher Gannon
Iowa State University

Beginning in the fall, Iowa State University students with disabilities will have a laboratory where they can gather to use assistive learning technologies.

Some $24,000 from student computer fees at ISU will help buy the needed technology for the 200-square-foot space.

The university’s digital accessibility coordinator, Cyndi Wiley, says much of the equipment is standard for this type of learning lab.

“We’re going to have some of the more typical assistive technologies," she says. "Speech-to-text, text-to-speech software, screen readers, screen magnifiers.”

There will be some higher-tech devices, as well, says Wiley, who is overseeing the project.

“We’ll also have things called switch controls that can operate a computer without a mouse or without touch," she says. "So a computer could be operated by voice or with another type of control that can be hooked on to somebody’s wheelchair.”

The lab will include gaming stations, which Wiley says are useful for both learning and socializing.

Wiley estimates as many as 10-to-15 percent of Iowa State students could benefit from the laboratory, based on the percentage of the overall population who have physical or learning disabilities.