3.6 Assistive Equipment & Technology

Assistive equipment and technology refers to any piece of furniture or equipment, or other hardware or software products used to increase, maintain or improve access for the functional capacity of students with disabilities. OSWD provides assistive equipment and technology to qualified students in order to ensure access to environments and information that would otherwise be difficult for them to use.

The faculty member must be informed well in advance that a student intends to use assistive equipment in the course they teach so that there is ample opportunity to make necessary modifications. Different forms of assistive equipment and technology available through OSWD include, but are not limited to, the various products listed below. Some reasonable modifications to classrooms or other university facilities are available, including the installation of an assistive technology program on another university-owned computer, or the placement of a CCTV in a classroom. If such an accommodation is needed, it must be requested through the student's OSWD counselor.

Students desiring to use adaptive technology at OSWD may do so by reserving on a first-come, first-served basis with the OSWD Administrative Secretary.

JAWS is a powerful software program designed to work with a speech synthesizer to improve the productivity level of visually impaired individuals, by streamlining keyboard functions, automating commands, and eliminating repetition. Information from the screen is read aloud or transferred via a Braille display, providing technology access to a wide variety of information, education, and job-related applications.

ZoomText is a magnifying software program that enlarges and enhances on-screen text, facilitating access to visually impaired individuals. Text appears clear at all magnifications levels.

Kurzweil readers scan text from a printed document, then presents the text using recognizable speech technology or transmits it via tactile means through the use of a Braille display.

Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) uses a video camera to project magnified images onto a screen. It is primarily used to enlarge text and is ideal for viewing and reading handouts, textbooks, and other assignments by individuals with visual impairments.

JAWS, Kurzweil readers, and CCTV are available for use at OSWD at any time during office hours.

Electronic Data Format (eBooks) allows educational material to be read on a computer or compatible handheld device such as a Kindle or Nook. The process of obtaining an eBook can be time-consuming, and some publishing companies may take up to three weeks to process such requests. Please note: some faculty members may scan their own textbook in the Blackboard; please check to see if you have this option before making a request from OSWD.

Students interested in requesting a course book in eBook format must comply with and follow the procedures given below:

  • Once approved for accommodations at OSWD, a student may discuss with their OSWD counselor receiving eBooks for their course work. The counselor must base the need for eBooks on necessary accommodations as found in the student's medical or diagnostic records; not all OSWD students are eligible to receive eBooks.
  • The counselor approves the accommodation of eBooks for the student.
  • The student fills out a request form for the eBook and gives it to the Senior Low Vision Specialist for processing. A receipt for the request will be sent to the student within 48 hours. The student must provide a USB memory device for eBook documents.
  • OSWD contacts the publishing company to obtain an alternative media format of the book. This typically takes up to three weeks. OSWD will work with the student to ensure necessary assistance during the procurement of the eBook.
  • Some publishing companies may require purchase of the book in order to receive a digital version of that book.
  • Once the eBook is received, the file is transferred to the student's USB device, or e-mailed to the student. The student must pick up the USB device within two days of confirmed delivery.