Living on a college campus with a visual impairment can definitely be a challenge. Personally, I have found it to be very pleasant and simple, so I thought I would share three simple tips on how to make it as enjoyable an experience as possible: acclamation, information, and exploration.
- Acclamation is essential when you go to a new campus. To get as much out of the college experience as possible, know your surroundings. Many students will simply lie around and do absolutely nothing. Sometimes, this is because they are lazy, but most of the time it’s because they don’t know what is around to do. As a blind individual it is crucial that you get mobility training on the campus; however, this just cannot cover the whole campus, so this brings me to my second point.
- Information is a tool which many people don’t make full use of. When in doubt, just ask. It’s okay to admit you don’t know something. So, when you are wandering around campus and have no idea where you are, just stop for a moment. Usually someone will come by and all you have to do is ask and they will be happy to help. This applies to the classroom, getting directions or learning about new places to go. Stopping to ask questions will make you stand out and give you opportunities to meet new people, which leads me to my final point: exploration.
- Acclamation and information lead to exploration. After you’ve become comfortable with your immediate surroundings, start branching out. Learn about a new place every day if you can. In my own time at college I have found many places that I never would have known about if I hadn’t gotten out of my comfort zone and gone off the beaten track. Many students stay in their own little zone. They go to the same places and see the same people every day. This isn’t a bad thing, but if you really want to get the most out of the college experience go new places and make new friends.
Some would say that all of this is easier when you have sight and maybe it is, but what isn’t? If we use that as an excuse, no one would ever get anything done. To any individual who is blind and reading this, I have one last piece of advice: don’t allow your level of sight to be a hindrance. Don’t let it stop you from doing anything, including work. You will encounter situations where a professor excuses you from work because you are blind, which is awesome right? Wrong. Accept this treatment and it will inevitably lead to laziness, frustration, and mediocrity. Accept accommodations where you need them; otherwise, do everything everyone else is doing.
If you follow these tips, college is much less intimidating. The key is to take it one step at a time. Don’t stress yourself out with trying to do everything at once; there’s a reason college takes four years or more to complete. Regardless of whether you are blind, acclamation, information and exploration will make your time in college one of the most enjoyable experiences of your life.