When students walk onto the University of Michigan campus, most know that they have found a community that cares and one in which they can thrive. However, students with a learning disability can often be concerned about fitting in and wonder if they can manage the rigorous academics, one of the hallmarks of the Michigan student experience.
There is a support system for students with learning disabilities at Michigan called Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD). The University of Michigan officially recognized the Office of Disabled Student Services in February of 1974 five months after the passage of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act.
One of the many resources at SSD that students have access to is the FACT Fund (Fund for Accessible Computing Technology). The FACT fund was established to assist University of Michigan students registered with SSD in obtaining needed technology in order to increase their learning and academic achievement. Individual grants are specifically available for undergraduate, graduate and professional students with Learning Disabilities. With this grant money, students can purchase iPads, complete with apps that help them with reading, spelling, writing and organizational/study skills as well as other technologies that will help them excel in their studies and build the confidence to pursue their dreams.
Chris Heald, (KIN, 2014) is arecipient of a FACT fund grant. Chris, an accomplished wrestler for U-M, was diagnosed with dyslexia in high school. He was introduced to SSD by his Michigan athletic counselors and purchased an iPad and a LiveScribe Smart Pen which allows him to transfer class notes and audio recordings directly to his computer. This assistive technology has created new opportunities for Chris to overcome everyday academic challenges and with hard work and these tools, he is thriving in U-M’s competitive campus environment.
Jillian McConville (Anthropology 2013) also sought help at SSD during her second year at U-M to work through issues related to her learning disabilities and ADHD. After learning about the resources available to her through the FACT fund, she also purchased a LiveScribe Smart Pen with the grant money she received. Being able to focus on her academics instead of worrying about affording the technology and hardware she needs has allowed Jillian to achieve her goals. In fact, as she states, ‘the Smart Pen has made a huge impact on my improvement in my courses and studying is much more enjoyable.”
The FACT fund grant is just one of many resources available to students along with the skilled and compassionate staff at the office of Services for Students with Disabilities. Your contributions will helping SSD remain on the cutting edge of providing crucial assistance that helps keep Michigan students the Leaders and Best. Please visit http://ssd.umich.edu/article/giving or call the office at (734) 763-3000 for more information.
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