Lab-of-the-Month: The Adaptive Lab
By Dr. Elizabeth Hinkle-Turner, Student Computing Services Manager
Located in Chilton Hall Room 116, this month's featured General Access Lab - the Adaptive Lab - is designed to meet the needs of students with disabilities on the UNT campus. With an easy-to-reach entrance on the first floor of Chilton and extended open hours (Monday-Thursday: 8:00 am - midnight; Friday and Saturday: 8:00 am - 5:00 p.m.; Sunday: noon - midnight), the Adaptive Lab gives special needs students all the features of the other general access labs while providing advanced hardware and software resources for the full utilization of available digital technology.
The lab has a large open area and specially -built furniture to accommodate wheelchair access and ease of movement. Technical resources include twelve Pentium II computers with 17-inch monitors, CD-ROM drives and zip drives as well as several Hewlett Packard ScanJet 5P flatbed scanners for text and graphics scanning. A multimedia workstation is also available for digital audio and video production. All staff in the lab are trained to help with special needs.
Adaptive computer lab hardware includes the Juliet Brailler, a printer with the ability to make hardcopy Braille pages from specially formatted documents. This printer is often used in connection with the MegaDOTS computer document translator software for Windows. MegaDOTS reads in and converts word processor files to standard Braille format. When used with the Juliet Brailler, virtually any text file can be quickly reproduced into Braille.
Another powerful tool available for the visually impaired is the Chroma CCD reader. This color video magnifier can be used for all types of documents from magazine articles to photographs. The Chroma CCD features a 20 inch monitor, 3-60x magnification, and easy to use controls.
In addition to the MegaDOTS software, the Adaptive computer lab provides other application resources to help with the viewing of digital materials. ZoomText is a screen enlarging program for both the DOS and Windows operating environments allowing for screen magnification of up to 16 times and access to the whole screen via mouse movement from edge to edge. The JAWS (Job Access With Speech) software for Windows provides speech-based screen reading capability and has a variety of customized utilities.
Dragon Naturally Speaking is a software tool available in the lab for those who cannot use a computer keyboard or other controls and must use voice activation instead. Features include a 32,000 word customizable vocabulary and a learning translator that becomes more accurate with extended use.
A visit to the Adaptive General Access Lab shows it to be a busy, well-organized and feature-packed facility. The staff is helpful and cheerful. Additional information about this vital part of the general access lab system can be found at its Website www.scs.unt.edu/labs/Adaptive/.