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Campus Computing News

By Dr. Elizabeth Hinkle-Turner, Student Computing Services Manager

Expanded Adaptive Facilities Available for the UNT Community

This summer Academic Computing Services, the Office of Disability Accommodation, the UNT libraries, and the General Access Lab leadership took the opportunity to evaluate and act upon recommendations by the UNT administration to provide more convenient access to adaptive computing facilities for the several hundred University community members who utilize adaptive equipment on our campus. The resulting planning sessions and budgetary allocations have resulted in exciting new technical opportunities and resources.

The University General Access Lab system has, since its inception, provided accommodation for those with visual impairment, the Deaf and hard of hearing, those with learning disabilities and those with mobility impairments in its facilities. The most prominent service area has been located in Chilton Hall 116 and has been known as the Adaptive Lab. This lab has been run effectively and excellently by the School of Community Service. However, access to services has been severely hampered by the lab's location out of the center of campus and by the need for lab patrons to cross busy and crowded Avenue C.

Adaptive Lab Being Moved, New Equipment Ordered

After careful consideration it was determined that the adaptive facilities should be moved to the Academic Computing Services General Access lab located in ISB 110. This location offers many advantages including its centralized location, its close proximity to the Union where Office of Disability Accommodation (ODA) is housed, and the availability of ramp access far away from busy streets. After this choice of location was made cooperative efforts between the UNT library, Academic Computing Services, the School of Community Service and the ODA helped to make this new facility an outstanding resource for the university.

The Academic Computing Services General Access lab has been completely redesigned to accommodate old and new adaptive equipment and workstations while also continuing to serve its many customers at its other workstations. Three new workstations have been added to the lab which contain hardware and software specifically designed for special needs. Software available in the new ISB 110 location includes Dragon Naturally Speaking 6.0 Professional. This software allows one to vocally dictate documents into the computer. Professional 6.0 is a significant upgrade from the version formerly provided at the university and has many more features. Additionally, the software is bundled with Scientific Notebook and MathTalk which offer even more features including the translation of complex scientific and math symbols into Braille. Other special needs software available in the lab will include Zoomtext, JAWS and the Duxbury Braille Translator.

New and additional hardware has been ordered. A new Braille printer and translator has been installed. Besides being more compact and easier to use, this printer comes in a sound-dampening case eliminating much of the noise associated with its use. This printer works with the Duxbury Braille Translator software mentioned above. Another exciting new acquisition is the Kurzweil 1000 Flex scanning system. Coupled with an Epson scanner, this software is an aide for scanning documents quickly and easily with little or no assistance. The Kurzweil 1000 system will also translate these documents to Braille as needed. A Chroma CCD unit will be available for the magnification of reading materials.

ISB 110 Floor Plan Redesigned

In accordance with safety and convenience considerations, the floor plan of the ISB 110 lab has been completely redesigned. Everyone will have easy doorway access to the lab with a generous and obstacle-free path to the equipment. Several computer workstations will be on adjustable tables to accommodate all height needs. The lab is repainted and signage indicating the location of adaptive equipment and services have been added. Additionally, strobe fire alarms will be added in the near future, and other new safety accommodations include the alteration of one of the library exits for another escape route. A TTY phone system will also be installed in the lab.

Testing Facilities Relocated

In order to provide a better and more comfortable testing atmosphere, testing facilities formerly housed in the Chilton 116 lab will now move to the Office of Disability Accommodations (Union 322). A Chroma CCD will be available in the ODA for test reading, and all testing for special needs students will occur there.

Lots of good things to look forward to . . .

Staff for the Academic Computing Services ISB 110 lab have undergone intensive training both in adaptive issues by the ODA and in hardware and software use by the manufacturers. The lab is also fortunate that three additional staff members already well-versed in adaptive equipment will be joining the ACS lab team. These student workers originally were employed in the Chilton 116 lab. During 60 of the 100 hours per week that the ISB 110 lab is open, adaptive consultants will be on duty to provide extra service to patrons as needed. The lab is also open longer hours than the old Chilton 116 lab providing more time for those using adaptive equipment to do their work.

The ACS lab welcomes its new patrons and looks forward to accommodating their technical work at the university. Please note that all other workstations and services provided by this busy lab in the past have not changed and will continue to be a priority. Be looking for further updates as more equipment and services are added in response to changing needs and technologies. The new ACS adaptive facilities will open its doors on Monday August 26. All patrons in the UNT community are strongly encouraged to take a guided tour of the lab located in the Science and Technology Library at that time. Individuals will want to familiarize themselves with the pathway to the lab through the library. Both library staff and ACS lab staff are available to help you do so in the weeks prior to the lab's opening.