Through grassroots advocacy and the support of the disability community, the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities, and the University System of Georgia, Noel Gregg, Ph.D., and Christopher Lee, Ph.D. co-founded the Alternative Media Access Center, more commonly known as AMAC. In July 2006, AMAC first opened its doors at the University of Georgia in Athens to serve students with print-related disabilities under the 35 Georgia Board of Regents institutions.
AMAC, the Accessibility Solutions and Research Center, strives to improve the human condition by providing equal access to technology-based and research-driven information, services and products to individuals with disabilities and the organizations that serve them.
At the core of AMAC’s work are students with disabilities. This significant and underrepresented portion of the higher education population cuts across boundaries of age, gender, ethnicity, race, culture and income. And it makes up 11% of the total undergraduate student population. Although only 35% of students with disabilities complete college, compared to 51% of the general student population. Increasing graduation rates is a significant focus of AMAC’s research and services.
One program that has started to effect change is STEPP, the STudent E-rent Pilot Project. It was started by AMAC through a grant from the U.S. Dept. of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education and helps low-cost access to higher education textbooks attainable for all students, including those with print-related disabilities.
AMAC’s research, products and services also reach into the places of employment and daily activities for workers with disabilities, thus helping to lower the unemployment rates among job seekers with disabilities.
The success of AMAC’s work, seen in the lives of many students, led AMAC to receive a First in the World grant in October 2014. Of 500 applicants, AMAC was one of just 24 award recipients!
With this grant, AMAC will continue to advance access to higher education digital courses for disabled students. Partnering with the Georgia Tech Office of Institute Diversity and Georgia Tech Professional Education, AMAC will also help raise awareness and elevate the quality of these services by giving college officials and students Accessible Materials Innovation education and training.
AMAC’s research, programs, and technologies are leading to great change in a field that needs both innovation and expertise that isn’t possible with other centers. AMAC’s results are far-reaching and personal, and so far they have proven to live up to the goal of truly improving and transforming people’s lives.