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New support service for students with vision impairment

Sight loss charity Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT) has launched a new service to help vision impaired students entering further or higher education during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. The Student Support Service provides resources and guidance to help students navigate this life-changing period – and forge positive networks with people in similar situations.

Tara Chattaway, Student Support Service Manager at TPT, said:

We know it can be challenging under normal circumstances for anyone with vision impairment to go through an enormous change like starting at university, but in the current crisis it is going to be even more difficult.

Within the wider resources both for students and professionals in further and higher education, we have produced a number of resources in response to questions and needs that will arise for students in the coming months and beyond.

TPT’s Student Support Service offers support in a number of ways:

Student Support Line.  The new telephone support line provides friendly and knowledgeable advice for students who have specific concerns or questions around starting further or higher education.

Covid-19 support: New guidance for students with vision impairment and professionals supporting students entering Higher Education during the current Covid-19 pandemic.

Student resources: A range of practical information and ‘how-to’ guides on meeting the challenges of further and higher education.

Student Support Facebook Network. This new Facebook group allows students to share advice and information, ask questions, and connect with those going through similar situations.

Student stories: Students are encouraged to share their experience and tips of further and higher education, such as the challenges in accessing the Disabled Students’ Allowance.

Emma Hughes, Director of Services at TPT, said:

Research shows that when students with vision impairment reach the age of 16 and move onto further and higher education they face a number of barriers and additional challenges.  This often leads to them having to repeat the same level modules, stay in FE/HE for a longer period than their peers or even drop out altogether.

The new Student Support Service is designed to support these young people, creating a community where they come together for support, and providing information and advice, with the aim to reduce the drop-out rate and need for young people with vision impairments to retake modules. It will also support graduating students in their next steps towards employment.

 Tara added:

We want to encourage students who are in, or about to enter, university to contact us with their thoughts on the content that will be most useful to them.  We can then tailor our content to ensure we are producing the information and tips that they need.

We will be developing the new Student Service Facebook group and, when the lockdown ends, looking to host events to prepare students for this incredibly important phase in their lives.

Image: Thomas Pocklington Trust

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