Studying at university as a blind student

I am now in my second year of university and it’s safe to say that it is a huge step up from the first. The work load is bigger and harder, larger word counts for assignments plus there’s so much reading. I’m not complaining about this matter, far from it, I’m just saying that this is harder for a blind student. I’m not wanting sympathy either, I love being at university and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’m studying something that I’m passionate about and something that will get me further in my future career.
I’ve fought my way in mainstream education all my life and although it’s been a struggle at times I honestly think it’s help shape who I am today. It’s made me more independent and grow as a person. I thought I’d talk about some of the things that I struggle with in regards to studying at university as a blind student.

Processing information
I do feel that if I say I’m “tired” at uni most people think it’s because I need sleep. Don’t get me wrong sometimes it is, but it’s also because my brain is tired. My brain has to work probably twice as hard; I have to process what the lecturer is saying, what my screen-reader is saying and if we’re doing group activities, what my group are saying. For some people it’s a piece of cake, but for me, personally I find it a bit of a challenge sometimes. There’s only so much information my note taker can write down and so much they can do for me. Wouldn’t it be great if they did your assignments haha!

Reading
Like I said, as I’ve started second year there’s a lot more reading to be done. However, because I am blind this is so much harder for me. I can’t just scan a line or a piece of text quickly, I have to look for the appropriate heading and work out if it’s the right one. This can be very time consuming when you’re in the middle of a lecture. It can also take up a lot of time at home when writing essays, it takes longer for a blind student to do the reading and find references for assignments.
Also, I find it hard to get books that are fully accessible. Scanned PDF documents aren’t always reliable with a screen-reader and word versions often crash. If anyone has a solution on how they read books at university please do let me know as this is something that I am struggling with.

Format of documents
I have to remember to put italics in references, centre the title, line space paragraphs etc. It’s all well and good to make it look good but it’s harder for a blind person to do these, especially when your screen-reader doesn’t read these sort of things out to you. The prettier the document, the less accessible it is for a blind person.

So this post may have seem very ranty and look like I hate university but that’s not the case at all. I love it, and I’m so glad that I went. I feel so lucky to be at university. This post is far from a rant, I am just trying to get across to people that things like this aren’t always simple for blind people. We may look like we’re coping and managing it all, but we always aren’t. I don’t always ask for help, sometimes I just try and figure out a solution out myself and I know that this isn’t always the best case. Sometimes it’s hard when not many people aren’t an expert in this field. So please just consider our needs.
Yo may have different opinions and ideas but that’s oka.
Thoughts? Anything you’d like me to cover?

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