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The Ferris Foundation Exceptional Merit Grant Award: The Read and Write Pilot Project

by Adam Jason,
Student Marketing and Communication Assistant,
The Ferris Foundation

Julie Alexander, Director of Accessibility & Disability Resources

Julie Alexander, Director of Accessibility & Disability Resources

Accessibility is the practice of making information, activities, and environments usable for as many people as possible. To Julie Alexander, Director of Accessibility & Resources at Ferris State University, accessibility is a part of her daily life.  

 In her role at the Educational Counseling and Disability Services (ECDS) office, Alexander oversees a team working to improve accessibility for the students of Ferris State. Every semester brings new challenges to the office as they identify the need for accommodations and organize their implementation. This year, Alexander aims to eliminate even more barriers for students with the purchase of the Read and Write Software program.  

 The Read & Write program is literacy software that helps students understand, engage, and express themselves with fewer barriers. With help from the Ferris Foundation, Julie was able to make this program available to all students at Ferris.  

Julie was one of nine faculty and staff members awarded an Exceptional Merit Grant, awarded annually by The Ferris Foundation. This grant, awarded by the Foundation's Gifts and Grants Committee, is given to "projects that represent the innovative and collaborative spirit of Ferris State University." 

The Read and Write program is a literacy support tool that assists students with the everyday tasks of college life, like reading text aloud, understanding unfamiliar words, researching assignments, and proofing written work.   

"The Read and Write software fits in well with accessibility since it helps students with disabilities. It is available to all students at Ferris State University," Julie said, "We plan on keeping track of students using the program and getting their feedback to make sure it is useful as a tool as we hoped it would be." Julie said. "As long as we do a good job of promoting it, students are using it, and it is working for them, then we hope to keep it around for the future." 

Making this program available to students is critical to Julie and the ECDS office. Its purchase may not have been possible without the support of the Exceptional Merit Grant funds. "This award is important to me because it tells me that Ferris Foundation values what I do," Julie says, "It is right in line with everything I am trying to do at Ferris and helps us with our mission of making Ferris a more accessible place. This will be a game-changer for students."  

To learn more about the Educational Counseling and Disability Services office, visit them online.