Lesson 24: Navigating a College Campus As a Student Who Is Blind or Low Vision
When you are a student who is blind or low vision, navigating your college or career school campus will require you to have more than a map or GPS. How will you locate your classes if you cannot see the street signs, building signs, or room numbers?
One of the most important ways you can prepare yourself for college as a student with vision loss is to learn efficient travel techniques from an orientation and mobility instructor before you finish high school. Learning and using the skills you need to travel independently will reduce your anxiety when college begins and may prevent some frustrations you could experience trying to learn how to navigate a new environment without strong orientation and mobility skills. Starting college or career school as a student with vision loss prepared to independently navigate your campus will increase your confidence as you transition into this new phase of your life.
Contact the college or career school you will attend to obtain a campus map. If the map is not in an accessible format (braille, large print, etc.), locate a resource for obtaining the map in your required format. Use the map to answer the following questions:
- How large is your college or career school campus?
- Is the campus layout easy to understand or maze-like?
- How long will it take you to travel across campus if you are walking or using a shuttle?
- Identify points of interest such as the cafeteria, dormitory, student union, bookstore, registrar’s office, library, etc. What points of interest are near one another?
- Which dorm or off-campus housing options would best meet your needs?
- What is the benefit of learning how to navigate your college or career school campus as a student with low or no vision prior to registering for classes?
- What other destinations will you need to learn to travel to as a student who is blind or low vision?
- How will you learn to travel to off-campus locations as a student with vision loss?
- What forms of assistive technology will you use to assist you with finding your way around campus?
- What primary mode of transportation will you use to travel on campus and off campus?
- What is your backup mode of transportation if your primary mode isn’t working well or is unavailable?
- If you need to arrange for orientation and mobility instruction on your college or career school campus prior to your first day of class, who will you contact? How far in advance should you arrange for this instruction?
- If you get disoriented on your campus, how will you solicit help?
- How will you handle a potentially embarrassing situation where you accidentally walk into a person riding a bike past you?
- How can you use your need to solicit assistance to travel to a class and make new friends?
- Why will it be important for you to eventually travel on your college or career school campus independently?