Knowledge Before College (Part 1)
As a high-school student, Sarah Holloway was one of the founding members of Club VIBES. She has received her B.S. in microbiology from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. This is Part One of an article written by Sarah as a guest writer for “Freed to Fly”.
Making the transition from high school to college can be a seemingly overwhelming and daunting experience for any student, but even more so for a student with a visual impairment. While college represents increased freedom and independence, there is also in inherent degree of responsibility involved. It is important that a student with a visual impairment master certain skills before pursuing a college degree. The following are skills that I feel make transitioning to college much easier on both parents and prospective college students…
- Self-Advocacy: The student must be able to advocate for him or herself and clearly articulate his or her needs. Especially in a large university, one-on-one attention is a rarity. Class sizes (particularly in general education courses) can be as large as 200 students, so it is important that visually impaired students make professors aware of the accommodations and seek help as soon as possible if they are struggling in class.
- Accommodations & Disability Services: It is important that students be aware of what accommodations they need before classes begin. Make plans to meet with someone from the school’s office of disability services to determine what accommodations will be necessary. Also set up an appointment with vocational rehabilitation to discuss what services or equipment the student may need (I will discuss what services are offered by both disability services and voc rehab in Part 2 of this blog).
- Navigating the Campus: It is important that the student know where classrooms and buildings are located on campus. Before classes begin, have a sighted guide walk with you to show you where your classes will begin. It is also important that students are able to safely navigate sidewalks and crosswalks independently, so ask if an orientation and mobility specialist is available to provide instruction on these skills if you are deficient. Also ask if the college has a bus system to shuttle students from class to class.
- Transportation: It is important that the student have a reliable source of transportation (whether that be family, a hired driver, or utilizing public transit).
- Computers and Adaptive Technology: College demands a great deal of essay writing and most of the course materials are online, so good keyboarding skills are vital. Also, the student must be proficient at using screen readers or magnifiers if necessary.
Transitioning from high school to college can be an overwhelming experience, but possessing these skills will help lead to success when beginning a college career.
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