April 15th, 2000
More workstations on both campuses may be on the way
By SAM WILKINSON
Computers at West Virginia University are a fact of life. Almost everyone must use them, be it to type papers or get assignments online.
To aid disabled students at WVU, Carol Kann, a Technology Education doctoral candidate, coordinated an effort at the university to offer hardware, software, training and ongoing support to students in need.
“We have the technology at WVU for disabled students,” Kann said. “We just need to get the word out about the fact that these machines are here.”
The technology being implemented will help individuals with vision, hearing, mobility and speech impairments, as well as those with learning disabilities and other disabilities.
The workstations, currently at both Colson Library on the downtown campus and Allen Hall on the Evansdale Campus, feature monitors that can be raised and lowered, extra large monitors, tape recorders for spoken lessons and speakers. Scanners nearby can be used to read printed text, and text, once scanned, can then be enlarged, edited and highlighted.
One of the most powerful capabilities of the workstations, besides the physical capabilities of the workstations themselves, is the software.
Nine different software programs are on the machines.
JAWS is a screen reading software package for the blind. Kurzweil 1000 is a text scanning program that converts words in print into speech. Kurzweil 3000 is a reading system that helps improve the reading speed and comprehension of individuals with learning and reading difficulties. ZoomText Xtra helps individuals with vision impairments. Naturally Speaking Professional is a voice recognition program.
Co-Writer helps users create correct and complete sentences. Write:OutLoud is a speaking word processor. Inspiration is a visual learning tool. Microsoft Office and Corel Suite feature both grammar correction and font enlargement.
Students who wish to use the facilities should contact the Academic Computing staff. The staff will work with individuals to establish the best possible software for usage.
The project began in June of 1998.
“It’s taken time to purchase the equipment. We just got these in the last few weeks,” Kann said in Allen Hall, gesturing towards the shining new stations.
Currently at Allen Hall, there are three new computers and a fourth is on the way. At Colson, there is one new computer. There are also plans in the works to expand the availability of workstations to Wise, Evansdale and the Health Sciences Library.
“This is a really positive thing for the University,” Kann said. “We have these computers in accessible buildings and it will help our students.”