Computers can do some wonderful stuff, but not many of them can be a
student’s eyes and ears.
Unless the student is enrolled in classes taught in Grossmont’s
Assistive Technology Center, otherwise known as the ATC.
In that relationship, it is the computers that can see and hear, and
the students who can’t, or those who cannot physically manipulate a
It is a relationship at Grossmont that has existed since the early
1980s, with the founding of the ATC as a collaborative partnership
between Computer Systems and Information Services, and Disabled
Students Programs and Services. ATC’s initial mission was to equip
students who were disabled, with fundamental computer skills.
“In recent years, it has become clear that many of the students
served in the Assistive Technology Center require the use of
alternate media, in addition to receiving computer instruction,”
said ATC Lab coordinator Carl Fielden.
“To that end,” he said, “the ATC has been engaged in a seven-year
process of purchasing and upgrading a wide variety of assistive
technology products to make computers and, as a consequence,
instructional programs, accessible to any student with a disability
who enters our center.
These products include text-to-speech software that “reads” text
that has been typed into the computer. It includes scanning/reading
software that reads textbooks aloud to students. There is voice
recognition software, that lets students dictate text into a
computer using a microphone. There is text magnification hardware
and software, Braille and tactile graphics hardware, and alternative
keyboards and mouses.
Thus is opened up computer power to students with learning and
visual disabilities, brain injury, hearing impairments, speech and
language impairments, and mobility limitations.
“We also have the capability to produce textbooks in electronic form
so students with disabilities can ‘read’ them auditorily on special
digital players,” Fielden said.
Nearly 300 students are served by ATC, said Fielden, who has
contributed a chapter on learning disabilities to a new book,
Diversity in College Classrooms.
Students are also assisted in the ATC lab by Regina Fernandez, lead
lab aid, and Will Pines, alternate media specialist, as well as
part-time employees Bill Brown, Brian Hotelling, Cheng-Fei Lai, Pam
Camp, Ed Schumacher, Parastou Sadatmousavi, and student lab aide Amy