Submitted by Empish J. Thomas, CVI’s Public Education Manager
It’s Back to School time. Returning or even entering a college campus for the first time can be exciting and overwhelming all at the same time. Getting to know your roommate in the dorm, figuring out the location of your classes or the cafeteria is all a part of campus life. And of course, you have to make plans for socializing too! For those with vision loss preparing for college or university life can be somewhat different than those students with sight. So below are a few tips to help in the preparation process:
- When preparing for attending a college or university can you easily access the campus? Are you able to travel there on public transportation if you will be living at home? Being able to get back and forth will be critical to having a successful experience as a college student. Also, will you be able to navigate around the campus safely and confidently. Will you need to get additional mobility training with a white cane? Or will you need to investigate attending guide dog school prior to registering for college? Some students find that using a guide dog on campus is a better option of a mobility aid than a white cane. Seriously looking at the layout of the campus and getting a good understanding of your travel will help in your decision to attend that school or not.
- Does the college have an office for students with disabilities? Some campuses do and some do not. An office for students with disabilities can help provide needed accommodations for your classes. Maybe you need a book in braille or help with negotiating with a professor on extra time on an exam or class project. This office may be able to assist.
- Do you know other blind or visually impaired students at the school you want to attend? Do you know alumni who are blind or visually impaired? Knowing other students already can be helpful in getting a good idea of what campus life will really be like at that particular college. They can answer your questions honestly and be realistic about what the experience will truly be like.
- As we all know attending a college or university has a financial cost. But not to despair. Besides applying for traditional financial aid blind and visually impaired students can also apply for scholarships and/or transform blind consumer groups such as the National Federation of the Blind and the American Council for the blind. Doing some savvy research online can help locate this information quickly.
So, above are just a few tips to get you going and geared up for college. But for more information I have listed three additional resources below:
Bookshare, who provides books for people with print impairments, has a back-to-school guide.
A blind student’s Guide to attending University.
College Guide for Students with Visual Impairments.