““In high school I couldn’t keep up academically with the so called ‘normal’ kids, so everyone else was lumped in together in the ‘special’ classes, even thought there existed a wide range of learning disabilities. I could never find a happy medium where I could learn at my own pace, until I got to Curry.”
Holden Kepecs '85
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Technology and Accommodations
The PAL Assistive Technology (AT) Center hosts technologies that have been shown to benefit students with learning differences. The collection was upgraded thanks to the awarding of Federal funds to support the excellent work PAL has done in providing model assistance to our students in the area of technology. Through our Assistive Technology and Accommodations Center, students can schedule training sessions in the use of a wide range of technologies and services including dictation and reading software; smartpens; audiobook readers; and others.
- Extended time on exams
- Ability to take exam in a reduced distraction environment
- Ability to use word processing software for tests for students whose essay writing is improved with the use of spell check and grammar check
- Kurzweil 3000 for tests for students who need to listen to exams read aloud
- Students may be approved for additional exam accommodations, e.g., use of Dragon Naturally Speaking software for tests
All current and former PAL students are able to take advantage of exam accommodations throughout the Fall and Spring semesters. Students are encouraged to discuss with their professors what tests they may need to take with accommodations in the PAL AT Center. A test session at the AT Center is easily requested by students using a simple sign-up in advance. In the AT Center, students are able to take their exams in a reduced distraction environment where Kurzweil readers and use word processing programs are available. Normally, students are allowed to sit for tests and exams for a period not to exceed twice the length of the test. For example: if a student has a test in a class that meets for 75 minutes, then the extended time for the test would normally be 150 minutes, or 2.5 hours. Exceptions can be made on a case-by-case basis.
PAL students are able to request digital textbooks through our alternative text services.
Students may also receive assistance in registering for individual memberships in Bookshare - a free program for students with a qualifying disability. PAL instructors or the Assistive Technology Center can assist the preparation and completion of the Bookshare membership form.
Students may also request training sessions concerning any facet of our alternative text services.
Alternative texts provide learners the opportunity to grasp course content through different sources of media.
At PAL we integrate our accommodations to fit each student, thus creating an intellectually ergonomic learning environment.
PLEASE NOTE: Since operating systems and personal configurations vary, it is not possible to provide extensive individualized support to each student. For books not available in Bookshare or other publishers, PAL can direct students to sources of materials but we can provide only limited technical assistance due to the increasing variety of audiobook providers, player software, and devices. For students needing in depth technical assistance, we suggest contacting technical support for the computer or for the specific software.
PAL has Kurzweil 3000 firefly installed on all workstations. Kurzweil 3000 is software that reads text out loud, providing audio support for college reading materials. Kurzweil 3000 firefly allows for text to be either scanned from hard copy or "virtually scanned" from PDF. The program will also read many web pages. Features include highlight text as the material is read, dictionary look up of unfamiliar words, ability to control the reader's voice type and speed, and saving text as an audio file (MP3 or WAV). Training is available by appointment. Many students find that a brief introductory session is all that is required before successfully using this important tool.
Dragon Naturally Speaking
Training is also available on use of Dragon Naturally Speaking, software that allows students to speak their essays to a computer. Once trained on the use of the software, students can sign up to use the program during exams or on papers. This program has been a very useful tool for students who have difficulty expressing themselves in writing, but are able to speak their responses very easily. Students should plan several training sessions to optimize the program's response to individual speaking style.
Livescribe smartpens are available for a loan period each semester. Students can take handwritten notes simultaneously with audio recordings. This multimedia tool allows notes to be synced and accessed via cloud, desktop, or iPad. Students can capture, manage, and study lecture content effectively. There are many ways to use audio notes in educational settings. Training and tech support is included and encouraged.
General Information (FOR REGULAR SEMESTERS - SUMMER HOURS VARY)
PAL Assistive Technology Center
Mon. - Fri. 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Proctoring hours for students with approved exam accommodations
All exam requests must be submitted in advance using our online system.
Mon. - Thurs. 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Fri. 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
By appointment Mon. - Thurs. until 7:00 p.m.
PAL Computer Lab
Mon. - Thurs. 8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Fri. 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Learning Lab (Levin Library)
Mon. - Thur. 8 a.m. to midnight
Fri. - 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sat. - 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sun. - 12 p.m. to midnight
Student AT Training Times
For more information, contact:
firstname.lastname@example.org - 617-333-2262
Dr. Diane Webber recently received a fellowship from the Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation. Dr. Webber will travel to Denmark, Sweden, and Norway in June 2016 to confer with Scandinavian colleagues about Bringing Active Learning to the College Classroom at the Universities of Copenhagen, Stockholm and Bergen.
Like many high school kids, Ivan Marchany '16 was very much into video games. But little did he realize that his boyhood hobby would turn into a career path in cyber-security. Because of a learning difference, Ivan's college search led him from his home in Puerto Rico to the Curry College PAL program, where he has thrived academically as an IT major, turning his once-perceived weaknesses into strengths.
The Institute on Learning Differences, a successful venture between the Education department and the Program for Advancement of Learning (PAL), gives students the opportunity to tap into the resources and knowledge of PAL faculty members and outside specialists to better understand the unique educational needs of students.