Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Destination: Office of Student Disabilities

Welcome to OSD (Office of Student Disabilities) airlines! Flying from FAU to the real world. Your flight time will be approximately 4 years and the pilot for this flight will be Nicole Rokos. Please make yourselves comfortable and let us know if there is anything we can do to make your trip with us a more pleasant one.

I know what you’re thinking, what does the OSD have that could benefit me? Filling out enough forms to circle the world is required just to get into the place, but filling things out is an integral part of life and if you’re disabled, it’s imperative you empty the black pen onto these. Not disabled? Keep reading anyhow.

You’ll soon learn going through 4-plus years of college can be a great adventure for anyone, especially for those whom have challenges they must overcome in order to take part in everyday things. Being able to dodge those mountains makes everything that much sweeter when we graduate. Just like any of the new experiences you encounter, there is bound to be turbulence, but the OSD is there to help the disabled get through it safely.

Nicole Rokos, the director of the OSD, pilots this well-oiled machine. Nicole once commented, “The OSD provides a supportive and caring environment, encouraging students in developingæsuccessful college skills.” Rokos may be in charge, but what is a pilot without her co-pilot? In this case, though, multiple co-pilots would be more accurate. From Assistant Director Lynn Gil, to Notetaking Coordinator Michelle Shaw and Computer Programmer John Clarke, all employees and volunteers play an important role.

Any disability requires a lot of trial and error work between the student and his or her office counselor, which depend on what tasks the client is able to perform. That doesn’t just include certain disabilities either. For example, besides my not being able to hear, I am legally blind in the left eye and have limited vision in the right. Even though I lipread well, obviously, I’m not going to be able to read an entire lecture due to nearsightedness and my signing is limited. To put it nicely, so no sign interpreter for me either. This is where technology comes into play.

One alternative for deaf students in the classroom is a set-up called C-print. There are two laptops, both loaded with the C-print program. When they have been connected by wireless link, whatever is typed on the captionist’s computer, comes up on the client’s computer as well. It sounds easy enough, but there are many typing shortcuts that a captionist has to learn. For example, “bkz” would come up as “because.”

In-flight meals and snacks may have been all but eliminated from actual flights, but in this scenario, they are served up in the form of further assistive technology located in the computer lab. Whether you are paraplegic, psychologically impaired, have a learning disability or any of the other thousands of disabilities in between, the OSD can find a suitable way to accommodate you and make your learning experience that much better.

Many software programs can be used, such as Dragon Naturally Speaking, which is a speech recognition program and Kurzweil 1000/3000, which speaks printed text aloud once scanned to assist the blind, visually impaired and learning disabled. In addition to assistive software, the office also boasts a Braille printer, a wheelchair friendly environment, internet access, Microsoft Office software and the ability to use all of FAU’s many online conveniences.

Besides the goodies in the lab, the office provides additional services that can be used in and out of the classroom. They advise faculty and staff on how to work and accommodate students, beginning with notification that there is a disabled person in his or her specific course. If a student needs exam adaptions, such as more test-taking time, quiet surroundings or enlarged print materials, the OSD helps to make this possible. They also help to provide readers for the blind, notetakers for many disabilities and Sign Language interpreters for the deaf. They also help with study strategy instruction and access to buildings and housing when needed.

The ‘stewards and stewardesses’ are the volunteers that adorn the OSD and fill in the gaps, which come up surprisingly frequently. Whether taking notes for students, answering phones, providing C-print captioning or doing mundane office work, they are the assistance the administration requires to make your flight as smooth as possible.

For further information, you can visit the OSD Web site at www.osd.fau.edu ; call (561) 297-3880 (voice) or (561) 297-0358 (TTY).

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