Software available in the virtual lab will include:

  • ZoomText, a powerful set of reading tools that magnifies and reads documents, Web pages and e-mail through a computer’s speakers.
  • JAWS (Job Access Windows With Speech), a screen reader that enables students who are blind or visually impaired to navigate the Internet and most Windows-based applications by using keystrokes to input data and commands.
  • Read and Write Gold gives an added boost to people who need support with reading, writing and learning by making support tools available at their fingertips.
  • Magic, a screen-magnification software that helps students with low vision view information on the computer screen. Students can customize backgrounds and font colors, the appearance of the cursor, and the level of text magnification. Magic also has speech output that announces events as they display.
  • Kurzweil Reading and Comprehension Software, reading technology for people who are blind or have difficulty reading. This package helps people with reading or learning difficulties increase their reading speed and comprehension.  It allows the student to view scanned documents while the software reads what is being typed. It speaks and highlights the text simultaneously and enables the student to insert typed or spoken notes anywhere in the document. It also contains study skills and reference tools.

“The University of Toledo’s Office of Accessibility is a leading institution in creating virtual labs for college students; we are branching out from that success and trying to reach more students,” Paprocki said. “Phase two of the project will begin in October, and we anticipate receiving additional funding.”

During phase two, a collaboration will be formed that includes members from the UT Office of Accessibility, Ohio University professionals who coordinate disabilities services, information technology professionals from UT and Ohio University, and users of adaptive software.

UT will work in conjunction with Ohio University to assess the challenges and feasibility of accessing the virtual lab from both campuses. Phase two will be completed in October 2011. The next goal, after the virtual lab is fully implemented on both campuses, will be to evaluate the program to determine the feasibility of implementation at the statewide level.

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