New Assistive Tech Lab Helps Students Reach Potential
By Hayden Bergman
Opportunity and inclusion. Trust and encouragement. These are the words that inform the mission and values of UHD’s Office of Disability Services (ODS), says Assistant Director of Disability Services Nkechi Uchegbu. Now, with the opening of the new Assistive Technology Lab (AT Lab), the words innovative and access must be added to the list.
“Our job is to ensure that students with disabilities have fair access, equal opportunities, and an ability to thrive within the UHD environment,” says Uchegbu. “The students registered appreciate that we understand disability from a deeper perspective, and that we have the appropriate knowledge and abilities to support them in reaching their end goals.” Uchegbu noted that while the ODS provides access, students achieve success through their own hard work and dedication.
The AT Lab includes stand-alone equipment such as Braille printers, a 3D printer, a Swell Machine, as well as scanners that convert text into accessible PDFs. Uchegbu says the lab was designed to provide “academic resources in an accessible format, while creating a sense of inclusion that fosters confidence and independence.” This telos is in keeping with the A11y Project, which states that accessibility and inclusion are essential in the design and implementation of new technologies.
This word—a11y—not only encompasses what the ODS is for students, but also what that office does, and the new AT Lab is just the latest example.
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.