Fairfax, VA -- George Mason University’s assistive technology lab is unique. It is a high-tech computer lab consisting of 22 Laptop computers (All with Windows XP). There are also nine accessible desktop computer stations (One Macintosh and six Windows XP machines). The lab also has many high-tech instructional tools including two,large wall-mounted screen monitors, document camera and Tandberg video conferencing cameras. The lab is designed to support both students who are pursuing degrees in the area of assistive technology and students and employees with disabilities at George Mason University. The seven accessible desktop stations are located around the perimeter of the lab on adjustable height computer tables to accommodate for faculty, staff, and students in wheelchairs. Each stations is designed to meet the needs of a particular functional disability area. “The Accessible Computer Stations are organized by disability type,” says Kristine Neuber, AT/Parent Information Technology Coordinator, Helen A. Kellar Institute for Human disAbilities,, For example individuals with physical disabilities have access to alternative keyboards, mouse, switches and voice recognition. Individuals with visual impairments have access to screen enlargement, document scanning and voice.Screen reading and Braille are available to blind users. Talking Word Processors and graphic organizers are available for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Technology for people who are deaf or hard of hearing include amplification, TTY, speech to text, speech to video sign language, speech to computer generated voice and or text to computer-generated voice or video sign language. For speech-challenged individuals there is a variety of augmentative communication products. The university defines assistive technology as technology used by individuals with disabilities to perform functions that might otherwise be difficult or impossible. Assistive technology can include mobility devices such as walkers and wheelchairs, as well as hardware, software, and peripherals that assist people with disabilities in accessing computers or other information technologies. The assistive technology lab was designed to be an ideal instructional environment. It incorporates several design features and instructional technology tools to increase the effectiveness of teaching and learning for both people with and without disabilities. These features are height adjustable computer tables, raised flooring and rear projection television. Using a hand crank, the table’s height can be easily raised or lowered. The raised flooring minimizes the cables on the floor which can cause a tripping hazard and damage to the cables. In addition, power outlets are positioned under the floor on 8-foot extensions to allow for flexibility. A television is provided for the instructor to project both a PC and Macintosh computer onto a large screen for students to see the content of the class. The instructor can connect their own laptop to the television if desired. How important are these technologies and accessibility services to students with disabilities? A blind student said, “Without these technologies and services, especially the workstations, I could not be educated.” The University does not track the number of students using its workstations. The equipment at each of the nine workstations on the GMU campuses in Fairfax, Arlington and Prince Williams include WINN WIZRD, JAWS, Zoomtext, Read & Write Gold, Dragon Naturally Speaking and a CCTV. A student with an intellectual disability told me, “My future lies here.” A spokesman for the university said that 70% of the students coming through the university doors have learning or cognitive disabilities. They include students with traumatic brain injuries, ADHD or dyslexia. The University does not track the number of students using its workstations. GMU also has the Assistive Technology Initiative (ATI) operating under the Office of Equity & Diversity Services, reporting directly to the ADA Coordinator. The ATI works collaboratively with other units within the Mason community to develop and coordinate implementation of a university-wide plan to ensure equivalent access for individuals with disabilities to information technology and communications. This is achieved through the use of adaptive equipment and the provision of technical assistance to all university departments/units. The ATI also provides training and technical support to the university community regarding equivalent access to information technology and compliance with the Virginia Information Technology Accessibility (VITA) Standards, which covers web accessibility. The VITA standards are based on Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. Additionally, the ATI manages the production of accessible text and media for individuals with disabilities who require equal access to the university curriculum and other resources. Korey Singleton, ATI Manager says, “Our mission is to provide individuals with disabilities an accessible university environment by supporting access to all technological, architectural, and educational resources available at George Mason University through the incorporation of assistive technologies, the provision of technical support, and the development of university-wide strategies for universal access.” The University also offers an AT Presentation Portal (ATPP). The portal expands experiences of current and prospective teachers, instructional technology specialists, instructional designers, related services providers, medical professionals, information technology specialists, computer engineers, programmers, and legal representatives with assistive and instructional technologies such as tools and strategies. Singleton says, “ATPP’’s goal is to provide a future for those individuals requiring tools and strategies .” ATPP offers one hour presentations during class on major categories, trends, or tools in a specific area. The class focuses on (a) specific devices/programs; (b) how they can be used; and (c) how they can be integrated into the field, into academic curriculum, into service provision, into designing and developing products and into policies. Sample presentations include 508 Compliance, Assistive/Instructional Technology for Reading , Assistive/Instructional Technology for Writing , Augmentative and Alternative Communication , Assistive/Instructional Technology for Sport and Recreation, AT Laws and Policies, Ergonomics in the Workplace and Assistive Technology Overview in the AT lab or in class. How do outsiders view all this activity in the AT field? Retired AT teacher and rehabilitation counselor, Thomas Beck says, “George Mason University’s leadership in this AT area should be copied nationwide.” John Williams coined the term assistive technology. His e-mail address is email@example.com. His web site is www.atechnews.com.