SBVC Disabled Student Programs and Services One of the Best in Southern California

 Ana Bojorquez knows all the ins and outs, and nooks and crannies of every corner of the San Bernardino Valley College High Tech Center. It's something that she learned the hard way. Every piece of software and programming platforms that she guides her disabled students through started from her own first-hand experience. She became the go-to person at the lab quite by accident.

Immobilized and in pain many years ago after an accident, she didn't want to sit around stagnant and nonproductive. She began volunteering at Valley College to stay busy as a way to deal with her own disability.

"I was going to pay to learn some systems, and I discovered Valley College had them. Once upon a time, I was a student here. This is my alma mater," said Bojorquez, Assistive and Alternate Media Technology Specialist at the college.

She started by helping the visually impaired students, and she learned Braille. One system after another, she mastered the technology and recognized its importance in helping students function in the ordinary world. Through the process, she was able to get over her own fears that she would never be able to work again.

While unemployed, and suffering severe upper extremity pain, she continued to take several technology courses, which opened a career door at the college. She never thought she would be the person in charge of the center.

Today, she helps students with all the programming they need to move up to the next level of their learning experience, jobs and careers. At the lab, students connect with her to access various assisted technologies tailored for many types of disabilities, including visual and hearing impairments.

Programs like Dragon NaturallySpeaking respond to student's speech to navigate the network while using their computers. Kurzweil 3000 system allows students to scan, and read information on the spot. Students have access to countless articles and audio, and the lab creates hundreds of audiobooks each semester for students.

"We create audio books for every text they have. We create alternate media, including Braille, large print, MP3, and tactile graphics," she said. Other assisted technologies include usage of JAWS [Job Access With Speech] for visually impaired, where they learn to use keyboard shortcuts, accessing databases, spreadsheets, web browsing, sending and reading email.

"The system talks back to them. They're able to hear what they're clicking on with the shortcuts they use, and they understand that they're doing their projects accurately on the networks," she said. These days, technology is everything, and disabled students don't have to go without it.

Whatever the disability, she said students can now access a seamless work and learning environment, and as importantly, get the job done. The lab also assists with navigating the network for student applications, access to web advisor, class registration, and financial aid.

With 36 computers on site, the computer lab offers support for distance education on campus and through the network service students can access the system 24/7. Anywhere there is a wi-fi connection, students can load all of their books or access the network systems on their phone. And, it's all free.

"Valley College has a lot of resources for them," she said. "The students that take advantage of the resources are fine. They continue, they finish, they find jobs at the university level with all kinds of disabilities."

San Bernardino Valley College now boasts that its Disabled Student Programs and Services (DSPS) is one of the most effective in Southern California. This department is committed to providing students with disabilities an accessible educational environment that allows each student the opportunity to reach his/her academic goals and participate in a full range of campus programs and activities. Such support services are essential components in helping disabled students realize their educational potential in mainstream academic programs.