Student Success – Atlantic Cape Community College

Hi, my name is Juliana Torres. I am a culinary baking pastry in food service management. Majoring here at Atlantic Cape. I’ve been here for four years. I really like the food industry and love learning about catering and all that other stuff. That’s why I triple major. Tell me a little bit about your process as a student in terms of access to your course content. So, as a visually impaired student, the process for me for deciding to go to college was very challenging because I wanted to go somewhere where I knew that my needs could be met. Initially, I was very nervous, scared about going to college. When I met the CFA team here, I realized that they have a really good program here that I can get the tools and the assistance that I need. What was really great was in my second year of college here because I’ve been here for four years that I met Chad. He was able to get me the ONYX and like an enlarged keyboard. He taught me how to use the accessibility tabs on Blackboards so that I can read PDFs and be able to individualize my experience. I really appreciate the fact that someone has taken the time, made the technology, learned how to use the tools so that people like me could be able to have independent college experiences and really be able to learn at a pace set at their own, and a pace that they feel comfortable at. Because sometimes when you’re a disabled student, you don’t have these things. It really can shock you and really make you feel alone and upset that you constantly need a helping hand. I really feel like the accessibility team here has done a great job to make you feel very comfortable and very welcomed in school and continue your career and your life. That’s really great. Have you noticed that your course content has become more accessible with the work that your faculty have been doing? Actually yes. Because we’ve recently, I think in the last two years have made everything ADA. So, it’s been a lot easier to read stuff, especially teachers before didn’t know that JAWS has to have headers and stuff to read sections. So, now that everything’s in sections, it’s actually a lot easier for JAWS to read things, and it’s easier when they upload things that it can be put in different formats like in EPUB or HTML links and stuff like that. It makes it a lot easier because before, all you had was like a Word document, and Word isn’t really conducive to being zoomed in or anything. So, really is nice to have formats that can be zoomed, that can be read by a screen reader and stuff like that. Do you download the alternative formats yourself or are they’re being provided to you? Usually, they’re either in a Word or a PDF, and then I download them myself, because it’s just easier that way. Some students prefer to have the PDF for Word. Usually, most of them are the able-bodied students. I just like to have either the EPUB or the HTML, because I can also save it to Chrome and then open it on a different computer from home or something. Oh god. So, you’re downloading those alternative formats through Ally. Yeah. How’s the quality of them been, been pretty good? I like them. I really like them a lot because it makes it easier. Not only does it make it more accessible in terms of vision, it makes it more accessible, if I save it to Chrome I can open on my phone, on my laptop, on one of the computers in the library, on my tablet. It makes my experience so, instead of just having one computer one time to do something, I could do something whenever, and be able to read it, because you can put a Word, email it to yourself or whatever and open on every document, on every type of computer, anything, your phone whatever. But you can’t always zoom in or read as easily as you can with something like HTML or EPUB. Yeah, yeah. So, what’s next? When do you graduate? I graduate this May. Finally. I’ve been here for four years. It’s really supposed to be a two-year college, but I decided triple majors. So, I had overachieved. I finally graduate in May. I graduate with three associates; the culinary, the baking pastry, and the food service management. Then I plan on going to Fairleigh Dickinson for my Bachelors in either hospitality or food science. You know Fairleigh Dickinson has Ally too? Yes, that’s why I want to go. Because like I said before, not everyone is as cutting edge. As ACC has been with their accessibility settings and Fairleigh Dickinson pretty much has, it’s like I look at that stuff. A lot of people don’t think to look at the ADA office or the accessibility office when they look at college. I do because I know that if I don’t, it’s going be a problem. Wow, so you found out that they had Ally there. How did you find that out? I asked Chad. Yes, Chad, they had it. He called over or something? I think so. There’s a Fairleigh Dickinson’s desk right there. Okay, because that’s one of your transfers. Yeah, because they have an articulation agreement with the academy. So, it’s easier for me to transfer all my credits because at this point, I have 87 credit incentive. They all have to be elective as I cannot be a happy camper. Yeah. Wow, this has been an awesome interview. This is really good. Anything else you want to share for maybe other students like yourself if you can give them a piece of advice for being successful in college like you have, what would you tell them? I would say that especially if you have something like a 504 for an APA, don’t be afraid to go to your teachers about it, because I used to be like that and I would struggle and stuff like that, and it just doesn’t help you. Also, if you do, be forthcoming and you tell people they can find ways to help you. You don’t have to feel alone, and like you can’t get help and stuff like that if you just say something. If you don’t say anything nobody knows, that nobody has a crystal ball where they’re like, “This person needs XYZ.” So, I really think that especially a disabled students like myself really need to be forthcoming. If not, with their peers, with their professors so that they can get the assistance they need. Awesome.

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