Campus Accommodations for Blind or Low-Vision College Students
Preparing for college can be daunting for high school students, and when you are disabled, there are many things to prepare for after graduation. Even during the first year of high school, it’s helpful for students who are blind or have low vision to start exploring their options through the Individual Education Program (IEP). Depending on the student's interests, the IEP team might suggest attending a two-year college, vocational school, or four-year college.
Picking a university with organizations and accessibility services designed to help blind or low-vision users is important for guiding students to have a productive and rewarding college experience and career after graduating. Most colleges and universities today in the U.S. have taken ample steps to create learning environments and campuses that work for all students and their different needs. Here are some accommodations around a college campus that assist blind or low-vision students:
ADA Braille Signs
ADA-compliant braille signs are required by federal law under the Americans with Disabilities Act and are a helpful tool inside buildings around campus. The signs are in large print, have simple pictures, and do not have visual clutter, making them beneficial to students with low vision and other students with cognitive disabilities.
In addition, The Americans with Disabilities Act requires all signs with characters or numbers to be translated into braille. This makes classroom, restroom, and directional elevator signage easily identifiable for students.
Students who are visually impaired normally receive special accommodations to help them learn how to navigate the cafeteria during the school day. An initial orientation before classes may be necessary for students with visual impairments to learn where trays are located and where the lines form.
Staff members and peers act as helpful resources by reminding the students of the day’s food selections and helping them find an empty seat until a routine is developed and they become more independent.
Fire Drills and Emergency Safety
Diagrams posted near doors aren’t always accessible for visually impaired students, so an Orientation and Mobility Specialist (O&M) may work with students beforehand to learn the routes from their classrooms to other locations in the building.
But, during an emergency, a mobile student should ask another adult or student if they could take hold and follow them to where others are moving. It’s incredibly important for a student with blindness or low vision to talk to their school’s administrators regarding emergency evacuation procedures so they are aware in case of an emergency.
Overall, a two-year college, vocational school, or four-year college that accommodates disabled students can promote a successful transition and environment for all students attending the institution.
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