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Molly blogs about her first year at university

My name is Molly and I am studying Psychology at university. I attend the University of Brighton and I will be starting my second year in October of this year, due to not having a freshers week, because freshers week is only for the first year students.

I decided to move into halls of residence on my university campus for my first year. I was very excited about moving away from home but also a little nervous,as any student would be. Both my mum and dad helped move my belongings into my flat room. I was sharing a good sized flat with 6 other girls who were from allover the UK. I had been talking to my flatmates on Facebook a few weeks before moving in, in late September. I found most of that process of finding them online easy as my vision and processing challenges didn't impact me in any way.However, after settling into my flat, I soon realised that my flatmates were not really my type of people. I found it difficult to socialise with them at times and on the whole, didn't jell with them on any level. I didn't go into detail about my CVI. I only told a few of them that I was visually impaired but never went into detail.

On the other hand, I felt well prepared for studying my chosen subject at university. The Disability & Dyslexia team had previously given me plenty of support and information about who to contact when I needed support,information about getting a Disabled Students Allowance and reminded me that I can talk to them about anything, before I had started in September. The basis of my support had come from this team but also my 'school' which is 'Applied Social Science'. I had a few visits to campus before I started which was extremely helpful because I got to know places much quicker. There is a student centre on campus where most of the departments are based such as, The Wellbeing Team, The Disability & Dyslexia Team and The Finance Team. This works well for me because all essential departments are in one place and all I have to do if I want to speak to someone specific, after booking an appointment, is to speak to the receptionist, who then calls that person to tell them I am there.

On the academic side of things, I cope well and am a very organised person. My course leader is extremely supportive and she also has a visual impairment,however, I'm not sure what her condition is. I am grateful and relieved to have met someone in education who knows and understands what it's like to be visually impaired. One of the most useful elements about Brighton University is that I have a Learning Support Plan. This is brilliant because it can be adapted throughout my degree, whenever I raise an issue regarding my studies.It also enables me to have certain exam requirements which have been carried through from school, plus I do coursework instead of exams which last more than 1 hour and a half, due to my extra time. I am also allowed extensions to deadlines for coursework, if I need it. This has all been accepted by my course leader.

My Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) has enabled me to have access to software which I was trained on before I began university. This software helps me learn, read and work faster while studying. It is designed and distributed by Ability Net.I have audio recording software and screen reading software. The audio recording software is called Dragon and it allows me to dictate what I want to say in documents and emails. The screen reading software is called Claroread and it reads whatever is on my screen aloud to me, once highlighted. I can also get it to read documents aloud to me, once I have converted it to the right document type, such as a Word document. This is all paid for by my DSA and I do not need to pay it back when I graduate.

Overall, I think university is a great thing to consider, especially if you are thinking of a career which is viewed very highly, such as teaching, a psychologist or doctor. I strongly believe that one of the benefits of going to university is building a network of potential employers. My advice for visually impaired people who are thinking of going to university is that you should choose a university which provides the right support for you and your needs and the atmosphere of the campus. Don't choose to go to universities based on league tables, ease of location, where your friends are going or anything else. Your chosen course and support you'll receive are the most important things to keep in mind.

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