There are pictures of musicians Ludwig van Beethoven, Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles; President Franklin D. Roosevelt; and scientists Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking. And right in the middle is Reginald Lathan, company founder.
“I was born with ocular albinism,” Lathan explained. “I found out early in life that I would have many challenges.”
Ocular albinism is a genetic condition that reduces the coloring in the iris and retina of the eye, which causes severe impairment of visual acuity and problems perceiving depth.
“My mother, a registered nurse, searched high and low to find help for me,” Lathan said. “She was introduced to the Cleveland Sight Center, an institution for the blind and people with severe visual impairments. It was there I was introduced to the world via access technology.”
Lathan said through the use of adaptive aids, he excelled in school and afterwards led many successful businesses. He earned three degrees in college, including a degree in computer science and an MBA.
“The personal computer became the catalyst that enabled me and many blind individuals to unlock doors and remove barriers to education, employment and independent living,” he said.
Two computer programs that have made a big difference are JAWS, a program that transforms what’s on a computer screen into speech, and ZoomText, a program that makes text larger and easier to read.
Lathan started his business, Lathan Access Technologies, in 1988 to offer specialized, one-on-one, onsite training using these latest technologies. He opened the Carrollton business headquarters last Wednesday at 1111 Bankhead Highway, Suite 15, Carrollton, in the Big Lots shopping center.
He said the office serves all Georgia counties and a second training location is being planned in metro Atlanta.
The Carrollton facility includes three classrooms with computer workstations and smartboards. The building also has conference spaces, individual workstations and student lockers.
“Our main focus now is the visually impaired, but we work with other disabilities,” Lathan said. “We work through contracts with the Georgia Department of Labor Vocational Rehabilitation Services, institutions for the blind and visually impaired and local school systems.”
He said individuals who qualify for some of the rehabilitation services can obtain the training for little or no cost. Others, who don’t qualify, can use the company’s private pay services.
Lathan said company trainers can also go to home or work sites to provide assessments and job training. Lathan has a bus that can bring students to the Carrollton facility for training.
As a service provider for the Georgia Department of Labor, Lathan said his company provides access technology training, where a person learns to use technology to live independently, to participate fully in academic programs or to go to work or maintain their present employment.
“Our service can be performed in a one-on-one setting in the home, school or place of employment,” he said. “We can also use a training facility, such as a library or a Department of Labor facility.”
Some of the various communication devices available for training include:
• basic computers, printers and all-in-one devices with optical character recognition (OCR) training;
• laptop computers, cell phones, personal data assistants;
• and PAC Mate, K-NFB readers, notetakers, Intel Reader, BrailleNote and others.
Software programs include:
• word processing and office suites;
• voice recognition software;
• Internet search navigation, electronic mail, social networks;
• and OCR software, JAWS, ZoomText, MAGic and others.
Lathan also has all the Kurzweil 3000 products for people with learning and comprehensive challenges.
He noted that some people may have to learn fundamental, entry level computer and software skills.
“This service is tailored to the specific needs and goals of the clients,” he said. “A needs and goal assessment is conducted before training begins.”
The business can be reached by phone at 1-866-210-0022 or by e-mail, email@example.com. The website is www.lathanaccesstech.com.