California State University, Long Beach
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Center Takes AIM At Helping Students With Disabilities

Published: November 1, 2013

Students with disabilities drew closer to graduation with the recent opening of the Accessible Instructional Materials Center (AIM) in the Academic Services Building Room 116.

“This modern center is a major accomplishment in our efforts to comply with accessibility requirements,” said David Sanfilippo, director of Disabled Student Services (DSS). The center offers three sections including a lab with 13 assistive-technology equipped computers, a production facility where the center reproduces class texts and an area for faculty services and support, the Instructional Materials Accessibility Project (IMAP) Center.

“We can take textbooks and translate them into Braille, electronic text or large print,” Sanfilippo said.

The IMAP Center is a collaborative effort between DSS and the University Library that provides accessible instructional materials to students with disabilities by consulting with the faculty. Among the services the center provides are translation of textbooks and course materials into alternative formats such as e-text, Braille and large print; translation of all pictures, tables and graphics; training for faculty on how to use eReserves to make reserved materials available in accessible formats; training on how to post accessible documents on BeachBoard; and training on the principles of universal design.

The center is one of the first of its kind in America, Sanfilippo explained.

“It serves not only students but faculty members as well to make their course materials accessible to disabled students including videos, PowerPoints and hand-out materials. We can put all of that in accessible format such as Braille and e-texts for students with visual problems or learning disabilities such as dyslexia. We can put the faculty’s materials in a format disabled students can read,” he said.

The center has twin goals of reaching high-impact classes where there is a strong chance of enrollment by students with disabilities and offering technological training for CSULB faculty members. “We’re trying to front-load these high-impact classes,” said Sanfilippo. “We want the materials of these classes to be available ahead of time.”

What is good for the AIM Center is good for Disabled Student Services and the campus as well, according to Sanfilippo.

“There is a concept called ‘universal design,’ he said. “What makes good sense for those with disabilities makes good sense for all. Recognizing a multi-modality approach for individuals with disabilities makes good sense for everybody. We can help faculty members design their classes to make them multi-modality by using the latest technology in the classroom and online.

“I think the opening is good because it says that the faculty cares,” he added. “We have had great support from the academic side for this center. There are so many people to thank including College of Engineering Dean Forouzan Golshani who served as co-chair of the Accessible Technology Initiative, Interim CSULB President Don Para and the University Library. This has been a joint effort to make this a reality,” he said.

The AIM Center plays a role in the campus-wide DSS Project Forethought that stresses making the university accessible to students with disabilities.

“It is better to be a forethought than an afterthought,” Sanfilippo said. “We’ve had great support for disabled students on this campus. But there are still times when people do not think of disabled students at this event or in that classroom. Project Forethought is about making the campus more aware.”

Sanfilippo encourages CSULB’s faculty and staff to check out the AIM Center. “Come by and see us,” he said. “That way, you’ll know. All we’re asking for is a level playing field.”

For additional information, call the center at 562/985-1663.

–Richard Manly