(Editorial Note: Some of the methods for accessing information mentioned in this article are no longer used. The book in which this article appears will be revised over the coming year. However, the basic message of the article remains very relevant ten years after its publication).
It will be helpful to schedule initial meetings with your instructors; and it can also provide you with an opportunity to establish good working relationships. If you do not have advance meetings, introduce yourself to each of your instructors at the beginning or the end of the first class. Since many college instructors have not had any experience with a blind or visually impaired student, explain your accommodations and make sure your professors understand how you will be taking notes in class, how you will access all of your textbook and print materials, and how you will need to take exams.
If you don't have enough time to discuss all of these on the spot, you can make an appointment during the instructor's office hours as well as exchange e-mail addresses. The clearer you are about your specific accommodations and needs, the better. You may need to provide your instructors with information that can help them teach you better, such as the importance of their providing verbal explanations for visual demonstrations.
Here are helpful points to cover during your initial meeting:
- Introduce yourself and explain your particular situation. (See "Nicole Benson Meets with Her Professor" for a sample of how such a conversation might go.)
- Discuss your specific needs in simple clear terms.
- Ask if you can tape record the class.
- Work out a plan with the instructor so you'll be able to access what is being written on the board, overhead slides, or PowerPoint slides (see Chapter 5).
- Give your instructor a chance to ask questions too about teaching a student who is blind or visually impaired.
- Develop a friendly exchange of ideas.
- Be a self-advocate by being assertive, not aggressive.
- Take advantage of office hours and e-mail in order to discuss any problems or concerns relating to the course.
- Be flexible. Some situations might require a compromise.
Reprinted from College Bound: Guide for Students with Visual Impairments, by Ellen Trief and Raquel Feeney. Copyright (c) 2005 by AFB Press, American Foundation for the Blind. All rights reserved.