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Higher Education of Visually Disabled Students

Visually impaired children face difficulty in keeping up with the curriculum during their school life but allowances are generally made for these kids, and through constant support of their parents, teachers and even their peer group, these children can succeed in school. However, the lack of sight can prove to be a serious disadvantage in terms of their prospects for higher education.

Many institutions of higher education have found a solution to this issue and actively encourage blind children to pursue higher studies.

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Methods of Information Access for Blind Students

Computers are the most efficient learning resources since they can be equipped with speech output and/or magnification software. Closed circuit television can provide access to information along with scanners. Blind children will also feel comfortable using electronic note takers, including Braille. They may also be provided with Dictaphones to record necessary educational information. Personal readers and low vision aids can also provide blind children with means to continue their higher education.

Fostering a Proper Learning Environment

Much of the progress shown by blind pupils in the field of higher education stems from their interaction with the environment. Therefore, it is extremely important for the student to have a good learning environment with the necessary amount of support.

The responsibility of the learning and teaching support for blind students rests in the hands of the institution staff, the student body, the academic staff (module leaders, programme managers, teaching staff) and the disability support service staff. Therefore, in order to facilitate an environment that is conducive to proper learning for blind children, a partnership must be established between the concerned parties. This sort of an on-going liaison is a crucial aspect of maintaining the optimum environment setting required by visually disabled students for education.

Power of Communication

Effective communication skills are a must in teachers who are in charge of tutoring blind children. They need to be patient and understanding and explain every aspect carefully without relying on visual aids. Good communication practices must be promoted by the blind children and the rest of the students in order to build a good rapport between them. Meets may be arranged by the institution at key points in the career of the students. Personal introductions are necessary at the start of every meeting to help the blind student put a voice to a name.

The blind kid may find a mentor, a buddy or an enabler through regular communication with people. Communication skills are also necessary for blind children to convey what difficulties they are facing in higher education to their faculty members.

These problems might be related to their education, the environment or their health. Health and safety guidelines must clearly be explained to the blind students so that they will be able to navigate and act fast in case of an emergency. However, it is necessary to recognize for both the students and the faculty to understand that sensitive issues may be present that relate to disability disclosure.

Best Higher Education Institutions for Blind Children

In the United States, the best institutions include the College of the Holy Cross, the Nevada State College, the Oregon Institute of Technology, and the Pennsylvania State University at University Park, University of Kansas and Arizona State University.

In the U.K., blind children can seek further education from the Dorton College of Further Education, the Queen Alexandra College and the Royal National College for the Blind.

Blind kids in India can pursue higher education at Government Inter College for the Blind, the National Institute for the Visually Handicapped Regional Centre and the National Institute for Empowerment of Persons with Multiple Disabilities.

Scholarships for Blind Students

Blind children are eligible for numerous specialized scholarships in the U.S:

American Foundation for the Blind Scholarship,

Albert Newman Fellowship for Visually Impaired Students,

Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired,

Association of Blind Citizens Assistive Technology Fund,

National Federation of the Blind.

In India and the United Kingdom, there are many private organizations and government institutes which provide scholarships and grants to visually impaired students who are eager to pursue their higher education in order to secure a better career.

The first step towards further studies for blind kids, however, begins with the understanding of the support and learning requirements of partially sighted and blind students. They must use proper resources in order to ensure that the information is correctly conveyed to the blind students.