For all students, college is a time of transition and change. This is especially the case for students who require assistive technology. It can be very challenging, so keep the following things in mind.
- Be prepared to advocate and educate. By this I mean, know what you need and be prepared to articulate what will help you be a successful student. Understand that you may be the first blind student that school or particular teacher has ever had. If that is the case, then you may have to help them understand how you learn best and what works for you as a student.
- Speak to the Disability Support Office to find out what assistive technology they have available. Not all schools have JAWS. Some use freeware like NVDA and Windows Eyes. Find out if they have the technology to do any tactile graphics. Some schools have embossers that can do tactile graphics, some contract out the work, and some have staff that actually does them by hand. Find out if they have access to a 3-D printer.
- Know your screen reader and how to navigate it. Your books will come in alternative format and, in most colleges that means downloadable files on your Blackboard account or discs sent from the publisher. Braille books are rarely available so your screen reader will be your best friend. Familiarize yourself with what apps may be available for reading/writing while you are on campus. Some students prefer to just carry an I-pad or read on their phone.
- Consider getting a refreshable braille display if your budget allows.
- If you are not already a Bookshare member, join now.
Making these advance preparations can ease the stress and allow you to focus on your classes when the semester begins.