Project EASI – Easy Access for Students and Institutions – is one of the first training programs designed to improve access for individuals who are blind or visually impaired as they retrieve information from print format and online. The founders, Norman Coombs and Richard Banks, are both visually-impaired and have trained thousands of faculty, students, computer systems staff and software authors, and disability support staff on the use of assistive technology. Dr. Coombs is a professor emeritus from RIT, and their site is still maintained there, but he now lives and works in California.
The CAST Center – The Center for Applied Special Technology – was founded in 1984 at Harvard, with the intent to provide assistive technology to individuals with disabilities who needed adaptations in their learning environments and in their daily living experiences. In 1994, a paradigm shift was made to the theory of Universal Design – an architectural term that referred to curb cuts, lever-style handles on doors and faucets, etc. that could be used by anyone, with or without a disability. Using that concept in education at the college/university level takes some planning, and for nearly 10 years, CAST has been in the business of Universal Design. CAST has been part of many federal government research initiatives and its research base and board of directors provide a wealth of information for those willing to research or special projects on designing courses for college students with disabilities as model courses. This is the organization that also brought us the “Bobby-approved” symbol of accessible online web sites.