Big donation to PCC Foundation to advance equity in education and resources

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This spring, the Portland Community College Disability Services Office on the Sylvania Campus was renamed the Stephanie Keyes Accessibility Center after a substantial estate gift.


(from left to right) PCC employees Ruth McKenna, Sharon Allen, Kaela Parks and Susan Watson unveil the new name of the office.

After her death in 2016, Keyes left $308,000 to the PCC Foundation to be used by the accessibility center to research and implement the use of technology — software or hardware — to help students with brain injuries and other hidden disabilities obtain an education and live productive lives.

Specifically, the endowment will be used for evaluations that can help students understand themselves as learners, and ensure eligibility for appropriate accommodation through the Learning Evaluation Access Project. This project has been in place for more than a decade, but the opportunity has been limited to students in Perkins-funded career and technical education programs. Keyes’ gift will provide opportunities for more students to benefit from these evaluations.

“Proceeds from the $308,000 endowment will advance equity in education by providing evaluations for students who otherwise would not have the resources to pay,” said Director of Disability Services Kaela Parks. “They can also give learners a better sense of themselves and how they learn best, which they then bring with them to other educational and employment settings. This endowment will allow students who have been experiencing barriers, often at multiple levels, to get documentation and support that can make a huge difference in their lives.”

Before a car accident in the 1990s, Keyes was a successful professional in the field of computer programming, having earned master’s degrees in Math and Business Organizational Behavior, as well as had completed coursework for her doctorate. In 2006, as she was recovering bit by bit from the traumatic brain injury she suffered from that fateful crash, Keyes enrolled at PCC. Thanks to the recommendation of a disability services counselor, Keyes was able to take classroom and hybrid — in-class and online — courses with the assistance of TypeWell, a speech-to-text accommodation. This adaptive technology synthesizes and captures a discussion using abbreviation software that can be read as a transcript on mobile devices, like laptops, tablets and smartphones.

Such guidance enabled Keyes to thrive at the college and earn her Web Assistant II Certificate with a 4.0 grade-point average.

“I am more proud of this accomplishment than all of my other degrees,” she wrote at the time.

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x by Susan Watson 2 months ago

Thank you for this wonderful article on Stephanie. Just one correction: Stephanie never took self-directed classes in the Web program. She was in my classroom and hybrid classes so she could use TypeWell. TypeWell was recommended to Stephanie by Ruth McKenna, her Disability Services Counselor, and was supported by Sharon Allen and her team. The 3 of us worked with Stephanie through many classes in the Web program. Stephanie had a big impact on my teaching and my life and working with her in my classes changed the way I taught all my students. That only happened because of the interaction we had in the classroom.

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