Now that the school year is about to begin I want to take this opportunity to discuss the topic of accommodations for students with disabilities. The best advice I can give from personal experience is to take advantage of the assistance that is available to you as a student with a disability.
I have been visually impaired since birth. I went to a pre-school specifically for blind and visually impaired children. When I started the first grade I went to a mainstream class (meaning regular education). During my early grades I had a teacher of the visually impaired (TVi) who tried to teach me braille. I say I tried because I refused to learn because I thought I did not need it.Now that I look back, I really wish I had taken the opportunity to learn it when I was young.
I would advise parents or students to contact their school to set up the services they will need. In grades K-12 this is done through an individual Education plan (iEP). Those in college should contact the department for students with disabilities.
Here are some accommodations that I had throughout my school years.
Large print materials
I did not grow up in the era of ipads and tablets and chromebooks. We did everything on paper. I was able to access my schoolwork by having all worksheets provided to me in large print.
These days laptops and tablets can reduce the amount of paprint material and offer more flexibility in adjusting the size and color contrast.
I often refused large print materials because the papers were very large and I did not want to stand out. I would have loved to have been able to use an ipad or laptop.
There are also CcTV’s that magnify print materials.
Here is an example of one.
Sitting in the front of the class
I always had a seat at the front of the class. The truth is that this did not really help me as I was still unable to see the board.
There is assistive technology such as cameras that can be used to zoom into the board now that can solve this issue. There are also note takers who will sit with you in class and help you tby taking notes for you.
Here is a piece of assistive technology that could help to access the chalkboard.
How to handle tests
I usually got my test material in large print and I also was given extra time to complete the exam. There were times I would complete the test in a separate room and I did have a reader once or twice for a state wide test.
Some extra thoughts
I think that technology has come a very long way and now students can blend in a lot easier as ipads and laptops are commonly used now. There are also braille displays and notetakers available allowing for more independence for blind and visually impaired students.
These are my suggestions for accommodations but you only know what will be the best accommodations for your unique situation.
One more point I want to make is that you must advocate for what you need and do not be afraid to ask for the accommodations you need. I made my school life a lot harder than it had to be by refusing assistance. Technology has made tasks much easier and more enjoyable. So, go on and take on this new school year and get that A!