Software lab helps students test computer programs

Sidney Keith

Student Accessibility Services has repurposed an assistive technology lab to give students a chance to try expensive adaptive software.

The lab, originally used to help students file paperwork, will now include Dragon NaturallySpeaking, Kurzweil 3000 and Ginger Grammar and Spell Checker Software.

There are six computers in the lab, which is located in the lower level of DeWeese Health Center.

Mollie Miller, Student Accessibility Services’ adaptive technology coordinator, said the lab is a great way for students to see what software is available to them.

Software available in assistive technology lab:

Dragon NaturallySpeaking: Aids students who may not be able to type efficiently by recognizing commands and acting on them.

Kurzweil 3000: Helps students who have difficulty reading and retaining information by highlighting text and reading it aloud.

Ginger Grammar and Spell Checker Software: Corrects grammar, spelling and punctuation mistakes and tracks progress with issues.

Source: Student Accessibility Services


“Students don’t have a lot of money, so it’s a great way for them to test out the software before they buy it,” Miller said. “They’re afraid to purchase something that may just sit on a shelf.”

Amy Quillin, associate director of Student Accessibility Services, said assistive technology is helpful to any student even though the lab is designed for students who are registered with SAS.

“Some of the technology that’s out there that may be specifically designed for students with certain kind of disabilities may very well be helpful for any and everybody,” she said. She added that the nature of what the software can do is helpful to students.

“Adaptive technology, like technology everywhere, is constantly changing and constantly evolving,” Quillin said. “We are attempting to be on the cutting edge of that — at least certainly up-to-date with what can be most helpful to students.”

Miller recommends that students wanting to use the lab should make appointments because of its small size.

“I would hate to have students make the trip over here only to find all six seats taken,” Miller said.

Appointments are also required if a student wants a demonstration, she said. Walk-in appointments are accepted, but the lab may be full.

Quillin said priority is given to students registered with the office, but other students may use the lab depending on their needs.

To make an appointment, contact Student Accessibility Services.

Contact Sidney Keith at [email protected].