Kristen Witucki, Learning Ally's Community Coordinator for Students who are Blind or Visually Impaired, shares her best advice for how to make the most of summer break.
The drama of acceptance, wait-listing, and rejection is over. High school is ending, or it’s becoming a distant memory. Time to sit back and relax, right?
Not if you’re blind or visually impaired. Maybe not ever. But if you’re blind or have low vision, there’s so much to do! Learning Ally wants to help you prepare for college this summer. Over the summer we will talk about what you can do now to ensure success later on. Why prepare during the summer? Because you’ll be preparing for the next four years, if not for the rest of your life. You will need to get used to doing things ahead of time, even when no one else around you seems to.
Whether you’re a seasoned technology user or new to technology for your visual impairment, I can guarantee that you’ll need to learn more for college. You will constantly be using technology to participate in class discussions, take notes, study for and take exams, and do research. What does this have to do with the summer, when all you’d like to think about is hanging out? Summer is the time to catch up on skills you might have missed or to acquaint yourself with a new piece of equipment.
You can start by taking our technology self-assessment
. It is an informal tool which will help you to realize what you already know and what you still need to learn. Then take that information to your state’s department of vocational rehabilitation or to your nearest assistive technology center. They can follow up with a more formal technology assessment, new equipment and training on your new technology.
Why start now? Agencies who help you with technology will never hand you a piece of equipment the day you request it. Technology, particularly for students who are blind or visually impaired, is often expensive, so a lot of paperwork has to happen before someone can hand you a new laptop, iDevice or braille note-taker. While our assessment is a good start, it does not take the place of evaluation and training from a qualified professional. All of these things take time, and you have two to three months before college begins!
Do you still feel overwhelmed by technology? If you’re blind or visually impaired and are entering college in the fall, you might want to connect to one of our College Success mentors
. They can give you a valuable perspective on the technology you will need and some tips and tricks to increase your skills.
Kristen Witucki is the community coordinator for students who are blind or visually impaired at Learning Ally and is excited to be working on the College Success Program. Her past roles at Learning Ally have included member, advocate, intern, product support representative and product tester, among others. She loves to teach and to write and lives in New Jersey with her husband and their four-year-old son.
Start the next school year strong by getting advice from our amazing College Success Program mentors
. Like Kristen, they are all individuals who are blind or visually impaired and have succeeded in college. To learn more or request a fall 2015 mentoring session, visit www.LearningAlly.org/CollegeSuccess