Ohio campuses to work together on virtual lab creation

The University of Toledo and Ohio University hope to give students in both schools access to the virtual lab.

The University of Toledo’s (UT) Office of Accessibility has completed the investigative phase of a $127,000 technology grant from the Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission, a supplement to the commission and Ohio Board of Regents Cooperative Agreement, to create an Assistive/Adaptive Technology Virtual Lab for students with disabilities.

Office of Accessibility staff recently presented an update on the Assistive/Adaptive Technology Virtual Lab project at Ohio University. Giving the presentation were F. Brooks Clensy, Rick Suttles, Angela Paprocki, and Toni Howard.

UT provides assistive technology for students with disabilities although it is limited to specific locations and access hours.

“Students who need off-campus and 24/7 access to adaptive software often must purchase this expensive software independently,” said Angela Paprocki, director of UT’s Office of Accessibility. “Purchasing personal assistive software also results in limited information technology support with loading and maintaining the software.”

Given the cost of the software, students often cannot afford the most current versions needed and have to switch between the version they have and the versions available on campus, she added. Working in two different versions can make it difficult to complete assignments and limits students’ abilities to master any one program.

If the pilot program is successful, an Assistive/Adaptive Technology Virtual Lab will increase student access and decrease the amount of money spent each year on individual adaptive software purchases. The virtual lab will house all adaptive software on a computer that will be accessible to students 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from anyplace where they can access the internet.