Grant_8/28_kd, DSS receives $55,000 grant

By Gus Bode

Faculty to learn about adaptive technology

SIUC Disability Supports Services has received a $55,000 grant to help aid students not just at SIUC, but also at area community colleges with adaptive technology.

“It’s like going to college and not knowing how to use a computer,” said Kathleen Plesko, DSS director. “You can not go forward without knowing the tools of technology, and this helps our students with that.”


The Short Term Experimental Education Grant from the Illinois Board of Education-Higher Education Cooperation Act (HECA) will support access through adaptive computer technology and website design and will help instruct not only students, but also faculty members.

Plesko said while many students have access to adaptive technology, most professors do not understand their uses and how to best accommodate them to students. Providing faculty with the technology can help assist professors teaching students with special needs, such as the deaf and the blind.

“We had focused mainly on students,” she said. “We worked together to make the computer labs accessible and to get the technology to the students, but we realized the missing piece was the faculty.”

According to Patricia Cosgrove, fiscal agent for Information Technology, the grant will pay for teaching workshops and aid DSS in developing workshop material for accessible Web design and will train faculty how to use adaptive computer technology.

However, this program will also support area community colleges, including John A. Logan, Rend Lake, Shawnee Community and Southeastern Illinois Community Colleges. Plesko also hopes the program will one day extend to area high schools.

Plesko and Cosgrove had applied for a number of grants for an adaptive technology program for faculty and students since 1996, but the HECA grant is the first they have received.

Plesko said she was thrilled to receive notification of the grant in a time when the Illinois Legislature is making drastic budget cuts.


“To know how poor the State of Illinois is and the program had not gotten all of the funding it desired, we’re really excited,” she said. “This is a substantial amount of money for our program.”

DSS first received funding from the University for adaptive technology in 1992 and has made a commitment to keep that technology up-to-date.

“The whole idea is to provide more services so that students can take classes,” Cosgrove said. “The students want to do the work, and providing them with this technology allows them to do the work.”

The first faculty workshop on adaptive website design and computer technology for disabled students will take place on Oct. 8, 2002.

Reporter Katie A. Davis can be reached at [email protected]