Inclusive Technology Centre opens its doors to students, staff, community

Staff at Fanshawe's Inclusive Technology Centre CREDIT: GERARD CRECES
Staff at Fanshawe's Inclusive Technology Centre are eager to welcome students into their new home in F2003. From left to right: Adaptive Technologists Jenn Clarke (Apprentices, Alternate Format Facilitator), Michelle Cadarette, and Ron Leblanc.

Fanshawe College’s Inclusive Technology Centre (ITC) is up and running with a new location and a different layout for the 2022-23 school year.

Located on the second floor of F Building in F2003, the centre provides assistive technologies to students at no cost, operating like a lending library for those who need them in the classroom or as a drop-in centre for students who only need them on-site.

The types of equipment at the centre range from devices like specialized computer mice and keyboards, reading and writing software, to special notebooks that can be scanned and read using a stylus.

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For students new to assistive devices, staff at the centre provide training on-site, with opportunities for group training and workshops in an open and comfortable environment.

Adaptive technologist Ron Leblanc said the centre constantly keeps abreast of what’s new and what’s available to help students.

“Our job is to always stay on top of assistive technologies,” he said. “Part of our job is to constantly be looking at the new tools and software and hardware that is coming out.”

Prior to the opening of the centre, most of the college’s assistive equipment and software were in storage, brought out only when they were needed. The beauty of the Inclusive Technology Centre is that the equipment is on display and readily available for anyone who walks in the door.

“Before we would meet students one-on-one and then say, ‘OK, let me run to the closet and see if we can find a mouse or a keyboard for you to try,’” he said. “So, we’re trying to be more hands-on.”

The pandemic provided some additional barriers to students requiring assistive devices, prompting staff at the centre to explore options that students could access at home through their existing Windows or Mac devices.

Now that school is back in session, hopefully anyone requiring assistance can and will walk through the doors. The bulk of their equipment is geared toward students with disabilities, however, that also extends to students who may only require short-term supports due to injury.

The ITC was formerly called the Accessibility Lab, and functioned primarily as a computer lab. Prior to this year, the centre was only available to students registered with Accessibility Services.

Now, the centre has opened its doors to everyone, and anyone can walk in, speak to staff, and explore their options. That includes members of the community at large.

Counsellors also reach out to students and learning support high schools in the area to let prospective students know what accessibility services exist at Fanshawe.

However, the bustle of the new school year is a hectic time for everyone so the main goal of centre staff is to get the word out that they are open, inclusive, and welcoming to everyone.

The Inclusive Technology Centre is open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday.