Visually Impaired Students Learn about Transition to University

Visual Impairment Information Day 2021
Students who attended the University's Visual Impairment Information Day with University staff

Students from New College, in Worcester, and the Royal National College for the Blind, in Hereford, attended a Visual Impairment Information Day organised by the University’s Disability and Dyslexia Service.

Both colleges are specialist institutions for students with visual impairments. Aimed at those thinking of going to university, it was a chance for the visitors to learn a bit more about what university is like before they complete their UCAS applications.

Students with a visual impairment need to take many extra factors into consideration when going off to university. In recognition of this, the University offered seminar style discussions to address some of the areas they will need to consider for a smooth transition into Higher Education. University staff also discussed arranging mobility sessions and practising independent living skills, as well as how to access the right help and support throughout their studies. The group also had a hands-on described tour around a typical lecture theatre and a mini lecture about the Disabled Students Allowance Grant.

Gerard Friery, Employment and Information, Advice and Guidance Adviser at the Royal National College for the Blind, said: “As a specialist visual impairment college, we were very grateful to be invited to the recent visual impairment event at the University. Twenty of our students attended the event, supported by teaching staff. Feedback from everybody was very positive; students enjoyed the experience of visiting a large lecture theatre and participating in the interesting seminars. Following the visit, at least two of our students now intend to apply to Worcester for entry next year.”

Catherine Williams, Disability Adviser at the University of Worcester, said: “We wanted to get visually impaired college students to think early on about the big transition ahead, as there is so much more for them to consider and prepare for.  For example, how do you navigate a new environment, access course materials and live independently when you have little or no vision? The good thing about it being visual impairment specific was that the groups were able to talk openly and honestly with each other about the kind of challenges they may have to overcome.  They shared ideas and advice with each other and, as Disability Advisers, we talked about important issues to consider and the all-important Disabled Students Allowance.  We are fortunate to have the two specialist national colleges locally, as this allows us at the University to also broaden our understanding of support for visually impaired students.”