A number of months ago now I visited Sheffield University to talk about the support available for when I hopefully attend. This involved a quick meeting with the psychology department. I asked a number of questions with the key question being:
Have you taught any blind pupils in class?
“I wouldn’t know as they simply blend in with all the other pupils”
I questioned this and the basic outline was due to the levels of support on offer and all materials being accessible in multiple formats, the lecturers never knew the blind from the non-blind.
During my short time at college this is something I have strived for, however the past few weeks have been incredibly trying. The handouts are never sent to me in advance. This causes me a great deal of isolation and exclusion within lessons.
While other pupils are given paper handouts to work on tasks, I sit there with nothing to do. Instead of digital copies in advanced I am presented with apologies and paper handouts. This of course puts me at a huge disadvantage over the other pupils, as I have to digitize the handouts then do the lessons tasks at home as well as assignments.
Digitizing the documents is a mission, as I cannot read the paper; my wife must first vet all the handouts I receive over a week. Averaging 25 handouts a week results in a lot of proof reading for my wife and a hell of a time drain on digitizing.
In the past week I have made it clear to a number of lecturers how important digital handouts are. They don’t make it easier for me to read, they allow me to read. I am hopeful over the coming weeks the situation will improve.
Not all is bad however; one lecturer in particular seems to revel in the digitization of course materials. Even highlighting issues I had with diagrams in class were rectified within hours rather than weeks. For that lecturer I am thankful, just a shame I wont be studying biology at university.