Thanks to ABLE Tech and OrangeTech, students with disabilities on campus have an easier way of accessing and using technology.
ABLE Tech is an Assistive Technology Act program housed on the Oklahoma State University campus to serve students with disabilities, faculty, and staff throughout the state of Oklahoma.
Brenda Dawes, the program manager of ABLE Tech, said the program specializes in textbooks for iPads and computers. They demonstrate and loan iPads and laptops with applications and software to provide educational support.
“Our technology loans are for six weeks,” Dawes said. “Bryson at OrangeTech has helped us with all of our purchases and has been very supportive of the services we provide. We participated in the Nology Fest last semester with a booth of our services, and presented on iPad technology and apps that can help students through digital textbooks, organizers, recording presentations and study skills.”
Bryson Baker, the manager of OrangeTech, said one of the things he did when he first started creating the concept for OrangeTech was to find out who on campus was leveraging technology.
“One of the first meetings I ever scheduled when I started the job at OrangeTech was with ABLE Tech,” Baker said. “At the time, they only inventoried a couple of devices and were limited in scope by what products they had access to. Through our meetings and talking about the capabilities that devices like the iPad could bring to their endeavor, we found a bigger opportunity and they’ve just taken it and run with it.”
He said when ABLE Tech first started two years ago it started out with less than 10 devices, but now have an abundant amount of iPads and MacBooks.
“From where we started two years ago to where they are now is absolutely incredible to see what they’re doing with technology to help kids,” Baker said. “I remember about six to eight months ago, we actually brought in an Apple executive who specializes in how to use the iPad with those that have disabilities, and I know several of the people from ABLE Tech attended. I think that was pivotal and inspiring for them to really take it to the next level and show them what these things could do.
“I remember one of the things he did, was he used this device to connect to the iPad that allows blind people to use it. You can imagine how the iPad is a very visual instrument. You click, you tap, you zoom but this device that he hooked up actually allows a blind person to text message, use apps, and play games. All OrangeTech had to do was connect them to ABLE Tech and invite them, and where they took it from there is a complete testimonial to their initiative and charter.”
Dawes said ABLE Tech recently partnered with the university to purchase a new product available for all OSU students called Read & Write Gold, which can be downloaded from the OSU website to a computer, iPad, or iPhone.
“It is a literacy support software product,” Dawes said. “ABLE Tech offers student training sessions on campus on how to use it, and students who participate in the class are entered in our iPad mini giveaway each semester.”
She said some of the things she hopes the program can accomplish this year are to encourage more faculty and academic support centers to call them to set up training sessions for students.
“My goal is that we will be able to offer sessions weekly to spread the word of the free software and other support ideas for OSU students to help with their academic achievement,” Dawes said. “OSU provides a lot of support for all students to help them succeed. ABLE Tech is here to help show students what is available, how to use the software, provide technology short term loans such as iPads and technology to determine what works well for each students.
For more information about Read & Write Gold and the services ABLE Tech provides, students can contact them at (405)-744-9748 or visit the website at www.okabletech.okstate.edu.