McMaster University’s sophisticated assistive technology space has reopened to students following a sizeable expansion.
Located on the second floor of Mills Memorial Library, the Campus Accessible Tech Space (CATS) provides equitable resources, facilities, and services to foster dignity and independence for McMaster students with various accessibility needs.
The space officially welcomed students back on Tuesday, Sept. 6.
“The first iteration of CATS opened in November 2018, and by early 2020 we had already outgrown the space,” said Nancy Waite, coordinator at Library Accessibility Services. “Students were walking in and having to turn right back around because there was no seating available.”
Renovations to the accessible study space include a large expansion to the back of the room, furnished with additional soft seating, twelve new height-adjustable desks, and an upgraded aquarium.
The front of the space—offering group study desks, two small couches, and a new coffee corner—is well-lit with three new artificial windows featuring LED lights that mimic natural sunlight.
“After consultation with students, we reorganized the space so that the new addition can become a quiet zone for studying and lounging, and the front area can be more conversational,” said Waite.
Paige Maylott, library accessibility assistant, added: “The design of the expanded layout reflects what we knew worked in the previous version of CATS, while remaining mindful of an intersectional approach toward students' accessible needs and the right to privacy and dignity. Users of the space are provided a key card to ensure that students who need CATS will have a comfortable, safer retreat to study and relax on campus.”
In addition to a private study and lounge area, students accessing CATS can borrow a number of assistive technologies, from a ReaderPen and desk scanners to laptops preloaded with software like Kurzweil 3000, Adobe Pro, JAWS screen reader, and Dragon Dictate.
“One of the many great things we achieved with the previous version of CATS was a strong sense of community. We hope that carries through in this new version,” said Waite.
CATS is located in room L212 on the second floor of Mills Memorial Library, next to the Library Accessibility Services office. The space is open during Mills library hours.
For more information on campus-wide accessibility services, visit the Student Accessibility Services website.