Some visually impaired students, particularly those who may have been blind from an early age, will already own the kind of aids they need to complete field study effectively, and will also have developed preferred ways of working. However, others may have only a rudimentary grasp of the aids available, may own few items of specialist equipment, and may still be seeking guidance on the best way to study, particularly in relation to fieldwork.
In both cases, it is important to take the trouble to find out what equipment is already owned, and what preferred styles of working may have been adopted. For the experienced student, very little advice or support may be needed, but for the recently blind or impaired student, there may be a lot you can do to inform, guide and advise them in their choice of support aids. (See the accompanying document on Assistive Technology.)
Among the items of equipment commonly owned by visually impaired students are:
The institution may already have a pool of appropriate equipment for loan by visually impaired students — e.g. programmable calculator with a speech synthesiser or a Dictaphone.
Another issue concerns sources of funding for student purchase of equipment. At a general level, students can acquire funding through the Disabled Student Allowance (DSA) scheme to buy equipment and pay for certain consumables. (See the Allowances document for details.) At a specific level, it may be necessary for the department to consider the purchase of equipment or services necessary for fulfilling field study requirements. Again, consultation with the institution's disability officer or equal opportunities chair should be a useful first port of call. (See the Support Networks document for further details.) There are also specialist national agencies (e.g. the National Centre for Tactile Diagrams) which may be able to help. (See the Resources document for details.)
Page updated 14 December 2001
GDN pages maintained by Phil Gravestock
© Geography Discipline Network/authors, 2001
ISBN: 1 86174 115 4