Ohio University student Matt Burger has been blind since age four, despite this “disability,” Burger has been able to accomplish goals many said he could not do. Burger, a senior studying meteorology and mathematics, is also a frequent patron of the Lynn Shostack Adaptive Technology Room.
The adaptive technology room, created through the Shostack endowment, is located on the second floor of Alden Library. The room allows twenty-four hour access to tools that can translate text to braille, create text through voice recognition and much more. The Shostack room provides individuals equal access to academic resources to aid success in their studies, professional work or research.
Much of the Libraries’ collection is made available to students with disabilities via the software in the lab, which enables students to have PDFs read to them, or even to have those PDFs converted to sound files that can be played on mobile devices like phones or MP3 players. Students who prefer braille can have their journal articles converted to that format and printed out. Students with visual impairments can have the text on the screen magnified, or images in a book or other print sources magnified onto the computer screen.
In 2011, President Roderick J. McDavis said, “Ohio University will draw both strength and distinction from its historic mission of extending learning opportunities to under-served populations, remaining … dedicated to access and opportunity…, and making selective investments in research areas that have the greatest potential for improving people’s lives.”
The vision McDavis had for the University is becoming a reality through resources such as the Shostack room and through the staff who work toward extending learning opportunities, access and opportunity for the underserved population.
The purpose of the Lynn Shostack Adaptive Technology Room is to help remove technical or physical boundaries for students, faculty and staff with physical disabilities, learning disabilities, or those who need assistance with reading, writing or studying skills. Through the use of adaptive technologies, students realize their promise, advance their knowledge and achieve excellence. And for many, including Matt Burger, that promise lives.
Photos: Patrick Traylor/Ohio University Libraries