My name is Belmina and I have studied behavioural sciences including sociology, psychology and pedagogy. I’m legally blind which in my case means that I can’t see anything. Currently I’m looking for a job and have applied for a law course in employment rights. I’ve recently finished my studies in behavioural sciences, which include sociology, psychology and pedagogy. It took me seven years. A couple of which I worked and had some health issues.
When I first started at university I quickly found out it wasn’t as easy to read books as I was used to. I was used to shorter texts and electronic books which I could read with my own speech synthesizer and braille display. Many of the books for higher education were speaking books read by a low quality text-to-speech voice. I could barely make out the words in the beginning. Another thing was the absence of books. Not all books were available as speaking books or electronic textbooks. More than once I had to go to an exam without having been able to read the books the teacher had recommended. I spent my first years at University worrying and arguing about accessibility. Crazy, I know and totally not worth the time.
Thankfully I grew up and realized I had to do things another way. I stopped caring about whether or not the book that the teacher wanted me to read was accessible. I went to classes, took notes and typed keywords. I started doing my own research by using google and other books that weren’t necessarily the same as the ones our teacher had recommended. I learned to use the University library and their databases. I also learned that when a sighted teacher tells you to read the whole book it usually means to skim it, not read from cover to cover as blind people tend to do. It’s because you can’t have the same overview of a page as a sighted person. You have to learn another way of getting an overview of the text. Now when I read I usually read the abstract first, then the beginning and then I read the conclusions and the discussion. That way I see what’s important in the text and can later go back and read those parts more thoroughly.
Thanks to my studies I’ve developed my research skills which are useful to my future career. Now seven years after I first went to university I can honestly say that my studies have not only resulted in theoretical knowledge about my subjects but have also given me experiences and competences that will be of great value to my future employers. My advice for those of you who are about to start your academic education is to not focus on what you can’t do but to do what you can to acquire the information and knowledge required for the subject and what’s more important for your future career.