Lesson 11: Skills for College Students with Vision Loss

Key Considerations

If you are planning to further your education as a student who is blind or low vision, there are skills you will need to learn and practice to prepare for the rigors of attending college. Unlike high school, higher level skills are needed to be successful in college. For instance, you will need to be prepared to read and understand large volumes of text. Efficient note taking using access technology and test-taking skills are a must. Studying will need to become a habit you enjoy. In fact, if you attend full-time, you will spend approximately 30 hours per week studying. Learning from experience and adapting to unexpected challenges will also contribute to your success at college. The decision to attend college should include an analysis of your skills, your potential to further develop skills, and your current level of knowledge.


Are you prepared with the skills needed to earn a college degree? Review the questions pertaining to each skill set needed to be successful in college. Determine if you have the skills now or if you need to spend some time learning and practicing the skills.

After you have reflected on your skills, give the questions to two people in your personal network to answer. Ask them to provide you with realistic feedback about your skills so you can identify your strengths and weaknesses. Determine if you are ready to pursue college, if you need to spend time preparing for the demands of college by learning additional skills, or if another post-secondary option will suit you best.

Access and Technology Skills

  • Are you reading and comprehending information at or above grade level?
  • Are your writing skills at or above grade level?
  • Do you have a strong background in math and science courses?
  • Do you efficiently use technology and/or low vision devices to access printed and electronic information?
  • What resources do you use to independently download and listen to audiobooks?
  • Do you listen to audio materials and comprehend on grade level?
  • Do you use a scanner or OCR (optical character recognition) software to access printed materials?
  • Do you have practice using a live reader to read printed information and assist you with studying?
  • Do you use email to send and receive electronic information?
  • Are you well versed in using technology to complete research and projects independently and on time?
  • Do you know how to format a research paper?
  • Do you have practice listening to a lecture and taking organized notes?
  • Do you use test-taking strategies to avoid anxiety?

Orientation and Mobility Skills

  • Are you a client of your local vocational rehabilitation agency so you can arrange for orientation and mobility (O&M) training on a college campus?
  • Do you have experience creating a schedule in which you get from one place to another on time?
  • Do you have the determination, patience, and skills needed to practice and learn multiple routes such as to your classes, the campus cafeteria, the laundry facility, the registrar’s office, etc.?
  • Do you use alternate forms of public transportation such as a public bus, taxi, ride sharing via Uber, walking, riding a bike, negotiating rides from friends, etc.?

Social Skills

  • What social activities do you participate in?
  • What do you do to relieve stress?
  • Do you readily engage in group projects by collaborating with other students?
  • Do you know how to express yourself articulately?
  • Do you ask others about themselves?
  • Are you prepared to make adult-like and wise decisions such as not partying too much?
  • Do you ask your teachers meaningful questions in class?
  • Do you spend time talking with your teachers about your questions and individual learning needs?
  • Do you participate in study groups?
  • What leadership skills do you have?

Independent Living Skills

  • Are your independent living skills strong enough for a roommate to enjoy living with you?
  • Do you keep your personal hygiene in check?
  • Can you wash and iron your own clothes?
  • Can you plan, shop for, and prepare a meal?
  • Can you clean the house (vacuum, wash dishes, mop, clean toilets, sweep, dust, etc.)?
  • Do you know how to make and maintain a budget?
  • Do you have a checking and/or savings account?
  • Do you know how to pay bills?
  • Do you schedule your own doctor’s appointments?

Self-Determination Skills

  • Do you self-identify as a student who is blind or low vision?
  • How do you solve unexpected problems?
  • Do you independently advocate for accommodations and services?
  • Do you have documentation of your academic accommodations?
  • Do you have documentation of your disability?
  • Do you know how to appropriately solicit help from another person in a manner that does not inconvenience them?
  • Do you have experience planning and leading your Individual Education Plan (IEP) Meetings?
  • Do you have an established relationship with your state’s vocational rehabilitation office?
  • Are you familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act?

Organizational Skills

  • Do you use an online or electronic calendar?
  • How do you set priorities?
  • How do you manage your time and track multiple deadlines?
  • Are you motivated?
  • Do you take the initiative to get tasks done?
  • Describe your work habits.
  • How do you study for a test?
  • Do you know how to manage your school and home life responsibilities?
  • Do you demonstrate the self-control and self-management needed to keep yourself from sleeping late and missing class?
  • Describe your self-discipline habits.


  1. What skills do you need to improve or learn in order to be prepared for college?
  2. Are there academic or study skills you may not have that indicate career school may be a better option for you?
  3. Is entering the workforce immediately after high school the best option for you?
  4. If you need to learn additional skills, have you contacted your state’s vocational rehabilitation office to inquire about receiving training?