Spotlight on Steve Jacobs
Ohio State alumnus Steve Jacobs (1973, BS, zoology) is president of IDEAL Group, Inc., whose mission is to enhance the independence, quality-of-life, quality-of-education and employability of individuals with disabilities. He is dedicated to enhancing the accessibility of STEM curriculum for students with disabilities.
Jacobs’ company offers software that translates printed STEM materials into digital formats for conversion into speech and Braille. In addition, IDEAL developed fully-accessible STEM-enabled eBook reading software (http://epub3reader.org. Over the past three and a half years, Apps4Android, Inc., an IDEAL Group subsidiary, has become one of the world’s largest developers of mobile accessibility applications with five million installations in 136 countries. Jacobs is also working with many institutions to “tech-transfer” their STEM-related work to mobile platforms.
On May 7, 2012, Jacobs was one of 14 individuals honored at the White House on as a Champion of Change, for leading the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) for people with disabilities in education and employment. The Champions of Change program was created as a part of President Obama’s Winning the Future initiative.
“For over a decade, Steve Jacobs has been actively involved with Ohio State programs to increase the academic success of students with disabilities,” said Christopher Andersen, director, STEM Initiatives, College of Arts and Sciences, the Ohio State University. “In conjunction with the Nisonger Center, Jacobs’ company developed a Portable Assistive Technology Software Smartdrive (PATSS) that provides students with a wide range of abilities access to low/no-cost, portable assistive technology software (http://www.ideal-group.org/?p=299).
In addition to his tireless support of Ohio State initiatives, Jacobs provides ongoing support to many of the university’s partners. According to Andersen, Jacobs has been a dedicated mentor to students at the Ohio State School for the Blind and Ohio's STEM Ability Alliance, an NSF-funded program that supports students pursuing post-secondary STEM degrees at four Ohio institutions, including Ohio State.