Special Teaching in Higher Education: Successful Strategies for Access and Inclusion

By Stuart Powell | Go to book overview

5

Students with visual impairment

Archie W N Roy


Introduction

Recent evidence from a number of sources indicates that visually impaired students access and succeed in almost all higher education curriculum areas as defined by the Higher Education Statistics Agency. Much of this data comes from students who formally declare serious sight loss as a disability to their universities and colleges (Richardson and Roy, 2002) while some comes from the voluntary sector, supporting visually impaired students who may not necessarily choose to disclose loss of sight formally (Simkiss, Garner and Dryden, 1998). Just about all broad subject areas are accessed now, and generally, visual impairment does not have a significantly negative effect on level of attainment as defined by classification of degrees awarded by institutions of higher education.

However, representation of visually impaired students across subjects of study is skewed differently than that of higher education students with no reported disability, and also differently than all students. Some subjects of study have tended to attract visually impaired students more (such as computer science, social studies and humanities), others less (such as architecture, education, and subjects allied to medicine). To some extent, this has to do with factors that will have less impact on course selection currently and in future. For instance, it is very likely that representation of visually impaired students will increase in education, since student selection guidelines issued by the General Teaching Council and similar bodies have recently become much more inclusive. Knowledge of this will affect

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