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Central Washington University

Lt. Governor Habib to visit CWU, speak at Pave the Way Conference

As many as 400 educators, policymakers, and education advocates from across the state will visit CWU for the 2017 Pave the Way conference. The event, on Thursday, Oct. 19, in the Student Union and Recreation Center, is designed around the themes of advancing equity, increasing college readiness, and broadening access to higher education in Washington.

“What I will be there to talk about is making sure that we find ways to create a college-going culture in our state, which is really a need,” said Washington State Lieutenant Governor Cyrus Habib, noting that increasing higher-education access is among his top priorities. “Dual credit, Running Start, College in the High School, there are many programs like that, which ease the transition and create an on-ramp from high school to college. There is also a lot of need around adults, those who are working but need stackable credentials in order to move up and advance.” 

During the conference, sponsored by the Washington Student Achievement Council, policies and strategies for educational success among underrepresented and underserved students will be shared, along with ways to promote meaningful professional development, and encourage educators and other advocates to get involved in developing and implementing statewide goals.

“I’ve noticed a disappointing trend that exists in both of our political parties,” Habib added. “There’s a certain sentence that we hear a lot: ‘College isn’t for everybody.’ I take objection to that. Because the person saying that is always talking about somebody else’s kids. I take the position that everyone, regardless of where they are from, deserves the opportunity to go to college.”

Habib, a survivor of a rare childhood cancer which left him completely blind, will meet with the leadership of Central’s Disabilities Services Programs, which works to make college more fully accessible to students with disabilities. 

“Our consultants meet individually with students to ensure that those with disabilities have equal access and an equal chance for success in their classes and their lives on campus,” said Wendy Holden, CWU’s Director of Disability Services, who will also attend the conference. “We serve as a resource for departments all across campus through providing individual support, and trainings, and presentations.”

Habib noted, “I took community college classes while I was in high school because, as a kid with a disability, my high school wasn’t the best place for me to learn math and science. They didn’t have the resources to accommodate me.”

CWU Disability Services, through its Central Access program, specializes in producing accessible science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) content for blind students.

Holden added, “It’s difficult to produce accessible math and science materials, so this is generally what other schools outsource to us. Central Access creates high-quality tactile graphics, raised line images that convey complex diagrams, maps or illustrations.  We’re looking forward to the chance to share our work with the lieutenant governor.” 

Central Access provides accessible media to institutions across the nation, ranging from technical schools and two-year colleges to Ivy League universities.

It has developed resources including the Central Access Reader, a free text-to-speech program that can be used by sighted students or by alternative-format producers to create computer code that can be accessed by screen reader users; and the Central Access Toolbar, a free word-processing plugin that combines a series of macros with specialized formatting tools to simplify the process of creating accessible textbooks.

Media contact: Robert Lowery, Department of Public Affairs, 509-963-1487,

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

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