Thanks to a program initiated by Graham Bell, assistant administrator of the URI Bookstore, Ram Computers donated $5,698 to Disabilities Services this year. The money is being used to buy assistive software for URI students with disabilities.
Bell said when URI makes institutional purchases through RAM Computers, vendors such as Dell, Apple, Hewlett Packard and Lenovo provide the institution discounts to the purchasers and rebate about 8 percent of the purchase price to the University computer store. If the purchase is made directly with the vendor, the price does not change but the rebate dollars are not paid out.
“We try to do something different each year to encourage URI departments to place their orders at the University computer store. By doing so, they help increase revenue to the University,” Bell said. This year part of the money raised from that 8 percent was designated for assistive technology.
There are approximately 300 URI students, the majority with learning disabilities, who will benefit from the software.
“This allows our students to perform to their true ability,” said Pamela Rohland, director of Disability Services for Students. “It’ll help them break down barriers.”
Rohland said the University has been able to put software programs onto many computers at the campus computer labs, helping students with learning, vision and hearing disabilities. The software allows screen reading, voice dictation and text screen enlarging. Textbooks can also be scanned in so the student can hear an audio version on his or her computer.
Disability Services has been steadily growing over the years, reaching out to more students on campus and providing training for the faculty as disability mentors. It has 156 courses digitally adapted for students, and it has been awarded a Champlin Foundations grant, which will go to the purchase and installation of assistive technologies to be put on not only campus computers, but also individual laptops for students at URI and the Community College of Rhode Island. RAM Computers staff members will be installing the software. The programs should be up and running by the summer, in time for all incoming students as well.
Each year around March, there is a push for computer sales before the end of the fiscal year. This annual program is designed to encourage all URI institutional users to purchase their computers through RAM Computers. “As a part of the division of Student Affairs, any net profit generated by RAM Computers each year is used by the Division to benefit student programs on campus,” Bell said.