New LIFE program assessment app developed by CCU ITS results in an invitation to Apple’s Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Research | May 15, 2024

An app developed by Coastal Carolina University Information Technology Services in collaboration with the University’s LIFE program has garnered the attention of the Apple Education Team, which recently visited campus. As a result, Jacklyn Masiello, LIFE’s training and development coordinator; Julie Clardy, independent living skills coordinator; and Elvis Petrovich, applications and web programmer, were invited to attend the 13th Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) hosted by Apple in Cupertino, Calif., in mid-May. While there, the trio had the opportunity to showcase the LIFE assessment app they developed, meet Apple engineers, and complete work that will eventually lead to them becoming certified Apple Educators.

New LIFE program assessment app developed by CCU ITS results in an invitation to Apple’s Global Accessibility Awareness Day

The LIFE program is a four-year non-degree residential certificate program for students with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. Students in the program have access to CCU courses, on-campus housing, student organizations, sporting events, work-study, and commencement. Their four years of instruction are designed to build independent living and employment skills.

“The Spadoni College of Education and Social Sciences is proud to have Coastal Carolina LIFE as one of our premier programs,” said Jamia Richmond, Ph.D., Spadoni College dean. “Coastal Carolina LIFE is built on inclusion, integration, and individualization, and the creation of the LIFE Assessment app is a prime example of these principles. The app will enable our staff to assess LIFE students’ progress in real-time in authentic settings, which is essential for working with individuals with an intellectual and/or developmental disability. Partnering with our IT department, the LIFE staff created this one-of-a-kind app, and we are excited to see its use grow and spread across the state.”

The Apple Education Team visited the University’s LIFE program after CCU, along with Clemson University and the University of South Carolina Aiken, received funding from the S.C. Commission on Higher Education to purchase Apple products for students enrolled in the LIFE Program to use throughout their four years of study. The products include iPads, Apple Watches, AirPods, MacBooks, and Apple Pens. LIFE program students will be able to learn how to use and integrate the products in their academic, social, and professional lives so they are well-equipped to live independently upon matriculation from the program in a world that is increasingly digital.

During Apple’s visit, Masiello was able to demonstrate to the members of the Apple Education Team how LIFE staff assess student progress using an app developed by members of CCU ITS. The app quickly drew interest.

“They said we were doing something completely different from other schools [in terms of assessment],” said Masiello. “After that, we were asked to present the app to the other schools [who had also received the grant] so they could see what we were doing.”

Prior to the app’s development and implementation, student assessments were completed via paper and pen, which was time-consuming and had the potential to cause stress to the student being evaluated. Now, assessments can be done digitally, which saves time and allows more than one staff member to be in a student’s assessment file at a time. Assessment results are now also tabulated and visual, so students can see areas where they have improved during a semester or year and identify areas where they need to improve.

“It’s provided a lot more visual feedback for our students,” said Masiello. “The way IT was able to do it, it shows the [assessment] numbers, but it also gives them a color-coded pie chart so they can see where they are progressing, and that’s really encouraging to the students to be able to see their progress first-hand.”

Custom app development like this is nothing new to programmers in CCU ITS, said Chuck Bunnell, applications and web development manager.

“In the nine years I have been a programmer at CCU, my team and I have developed close to 100 applications,” said Bunnell. “We have developed applications for student orientation, classroom attendance taking, student advisor appointments, student internship tracking, employee separation approval process, boat reservation system, education abroad course equivalencies, apartment rentals, custodial services, academic calendars, and many more.” It’s this willingness and ability to work with departments across campus to create apps and systems that streamline processes and make workflows more effective that has resulted in the opportunity to attend the GAAD event.

Bunnell said this exposure will likely open the door for CCU ITS to collaborate with other universities on how to develop similar apps. “I would hope that it would also bring some credit to CCU as a whole,” he said. “Using our applications system eliminates the need to purchase third-party systems, saving CCU time and money.”

According to, “The purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking, and learning about digital access and inclusion, and the more than 1 billion people with disabilities/impairments.” GAAD is recognized globally on May 16.

Written by Caroline Rohr ’08.

Related News

View All News Stories