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Released December 12, 2003

DELTA GAMMA DONATES $3,000 TO BENEFIT
SOUTHERN MISS STUDENTS WITH VISUAL IMPAIRMENTS

HATTIESBURG -- The Delta Pi Chapter of Delta Gamma at The University of Southern Mississippi has donated $3,000 to the Office for Disability Accommodations to benefit students with significant visual impairments. Equipment purchased with this donation will be available for checkout in the 2003 spring semester to students with disabilities to enhance their capabilities.

"Delta Gamma's gift provides wonderful opportunities for students with visual impairments and limited course materials," said Suzy Hebert, coordinator for the Office for Disability Accommodations.

Twelve new MP3 players will allow the students to listen to their texts, class notes, or required reading with the aid of a synthesized voice. The players function just like a portable CD player. In addition, seven digital voice recorders with the capability to record more than five hours of material have been purchased for the students to check out. Once recorded, the information can be downloaded onto a computer and saved for future study.

"This is going to be extremely useful to the visually impaired by simply allowing them to go to class, record and then download onto their computers," said Rich Baker, technological director for the Institute for Disability Studies. "They can then save it in a directory and be able to go back to that class lecture at any time and listen to the notes."

This donation was also used to obtain experimental video glasses that can be combined with a video camera to aid students with extremely low vision. The technique works by bringing distant 3D images that are blurred up close to students in a 2D format, where they have better capability of focusing.

"I haven't seen these kind of glasses on the commercial market. They're intended for gaming," Baker said. "But if they work, they could open up someone's world."

Delta Gamma's gift provides the opportunity for students with visual impairments and limited resources to use updated technology that can greatly improve the efficiency and ease in accessing and studying course materials. In the past, Delta Gamma has generously volunteered in disability awareness activities at Southern Miss.

The Office for Disability Accommodations is part of the Institute for Disabilities Studies, Mississippi's University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD). Headquartered for more than 25 years at Southern Miss, the institute provides university training, community service activities, research, and information that promote the independence, productivity, and community inclusion of individuals with disabilities and their families. For more information about IDS, visit the institute's Web site at www.usm.edu/ids or call 1-888-671-0051 (TTY).

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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM

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