By Chris Casey | University Communications
DENVER - The University of Colorado Denver's Office of Disability Resources and Services will have its first-ever assistive technology lab as well as a testing center and equipment, thanks to the generosity of Dr. David ('76) and Nancy Lacey.
The comprehensive new suite, to be named after Nancy Lacey, will be located on the second floor of the new Academic Building, scheduled to open in August.
The gift includes funds to fully equip the assistive technology lab and suite furnishings, and staff three student assistants for four years. Dr. David Lacey earned his undergraduate degree from CU Denver's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and his doctor of medicine degree from the CU School of Medicine. He recently retired after a successful career with Amgen.
"Dr. and Mrs. Lacey were interested in how they could positively impact students," said Lisa McGill, director of the Office of Disability Resources and Services. "We'll have staff to run the lab and we plan to use funds to buy equipment for the assistive technology (AT) lab. It's very exciting because we've never had an AT lab on the Auraria Campus. It helps open doors to students with disabilities in terms of opening access to education."
In the lab, students will be able to use an array of equipment and software to enhance their learning. Also, the testing center facility will be a major improvement. Currently, the CU Denver Disability Resources and Services Office has only two small rooms for testing; the office administers about 2,000 tests per year, each requiring a proctor.
"We are spread all over campus" to get the tests administered, McGill said. The new suite will feature a large testing center and five testing rooms with the option for a sixth.
When Disability Resources and Services opened in 2003-04, the campus served 151 students with disabilities. Now, CU Denver serves 524 students with disabilities and the number is growing by about 100 students per year. The largest group are students with reading disabilities who are unable to use standard instructional materials. Disability Resources and Services provides alternative textbooks; currently the office is producing about 200 books per year.
As part of the Laceys' gift, the university will upgrade with a computer for writing in the Writing Center.
"The Laceys were very generous. They provided the technology, equipment and funding for staffing, which a lot of donors tend to shy away from," said Catherine Lopez, director of development at CU Denver. "The university will provide a full-time staff member for the lab, and the gift money will provide the student positions. The Laceys, very conscientiously, wanted to equip the suite completely as well as make sure that proper staffing was in place to execute all that the suite has to offer."
The gift includes a portion for the Academic Building Fund.
"This will be very impactful for the students with disabilities at CU Denver," said Matt Wasserman, vice chancellor for development at CU Denver. "Dr. and Mrs. Laceys' drive is to create better opportunities for students with disabilities so they can complete their college education."
The expanded services at CU Denver will also better prepare students for what they will encounter in the workplace. The university is also working to increase the number of scholarships for students with disabilities, along with an aggressive effort to expand all scholarships, called 1000 More.
In 2007, the Laceys established the David L. and Nancy M. Lacey Scholarship Fund which they continue to support in order to provide scholarships to students with disabilities.
CU Denver will now have a center that provides tools. Tools that help a student overcome challenges, enhance learning and self-expression and, most importantly, provide more independence.
“This is going to make such a difference in hundreds of lives – not just now but into the future,” McGill said.