A visually impaired student at Atlantic Cape Community College held a protest at the college Friday saying he is being discriminated against because of his disability.
Anthony Lanzilotti, who is studying criminal justice at the college, said he has been prohibited from using campus laboratories because of alleged fire code issues and that the college has refused to procure or create accessible copies of his textbooks and course materials. He said if he wants textbooks to be scanned and converted to electronic files for text-to-speech software or on a Braille display he must do the scanning himself and that he cannot use campus facilities to do so unless he has a sighted person with him.
In 2012 Lanzilotti was nominated by the college’s Office of Disability Support Services for the county’s Donald J. Sykes Award, which recognizes residents with disabilities for their community involvement. He was one of five people to receive the award that year.
College officials said no formal complaint has been filed against the college, but spokesman Michael Bruckler said they have agreed to meet with representatives of the National Federation of the Blind, which publicized Lanzilotti’s protest.
Bruckler said he could not comment specifically on Lanzilotti because of privacy laws. He said there are about eight students at the college who are identified as having a visual impairment and have required the use of assistive technology within the classroom and/or resource room.
He said each campus has a resource room with text-to-speech technology.
The college issued a statement saying it is up to the individual student if they wish to have an aide with them on campus, but it is not mandated by the college. In the past, blind students have succeeded at Atlantic Cape both with and without the help of aides, according to the statement. There are no restrictions on registering for any classes for visually impaired students, although they may enlist the assistance of an aide in certain lab courses to ensure safety to self and others and are subject to the maximum occupancy of the class.
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