For the third consecutive year Hofstra University’s Student Access Services (SAS) Office has received a grant from the Whelan Foundation to provide iPads and other services and assistive technology to disabled students enrolled in the Program for Academic Learning Skills (PALS).
“Since the Whelan Foundation began its generous support of SAS in 2013, we’ve been able to provide state of the art technology and assistance for our students,” said Julie Yindra, director of Services for Students with Disabilities at Hofstra University.
The mission of the Whelan Foundation is to provide funding and support to not-for-profit organizations across Long Island, particularly for the needs of the region’s youth. The organization’s latest grant of $26,500 is providing Hofstra PALS students with assistive technology, funds for diagnostic testing, and note taking software. Additionally, the Whelan Foundation has established an endowed scholarship.
The financial assistance is providing Hofstra PALS students with iPads that allow them to catalog, store and access electronic texts and other reading assignments; sync their calendars and organize their “to do” lists for time management purposes; take class notes; and create multimedia presentations and complete research projects. Approximately 40 iPads have been distributed this academic year, and 120 have been provided since the Whelan Foundation began awarding grants to Hofstra.
Hofstra’s Joan and Arnold Saltzman Community Services Center has the facilities to conduct the diagnostic testing for learning disabilities and ADHD supported by the grant. “It is not unusual for educators to encounter students who have been undiagnosed or who ‘exited’ from special education into the public school system. These students may need testing or counseling to help them transition successfully into college,” said Ms. Yindra.
Another important service SAS provides its students is note taking. Every semester, SAS provides for note takers in more than 300 classes. Typically volunteers are called for and sometimes students are hired to take notes for their peers. Moving forward, technology, particularly a program called Sonocent Audio Note-taker seems to be a more reliable and easier to coordinate answer to this issue. This year’s Whelan grant is allowing Hofstra to purchase a license for this system.
Lastly, the monies from the Whelan Foundation grant are being put toward an endowed scholarship that will live on in perpetuity to assist disabled students achieve their academic goals.
Hofstra was one of the first universities in the United States to have a 100 percent-accessible campus. Today, more than 500 students with disabilities are supported through initiatives such as PALS, academic coaching, advocacy support, and residence halls accommodations.