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THE INCLUSIVE UNIVERSITY: VISUAL IMPAIRMENTS

This brief section focuses on resources specific to those with visual impairments which may be identified as blindness, deaf-blindness, or print disabilities.

Asuncion, J. V., Fichten, C. S., Barile, M., Nguyen, M. N., Martiniello, N., Budd, J., Ferraro, V., Wolforth, J., & Malik, R. (2008, July 7-11). eLearning and postsecondary students with visual impairments. In Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Low Vision, Vision 2008, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Retrieved from: http://www.adaptech.org/cfichten/abeLearningAndPostsecondaryStudents
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This presentation highlights results from two studies carried out over the last three years which included postsecondary students who self-identified as either being totally blind (n=29) or having low vision (n=139). The first study looked at the accessibility of eLearning in Canadian colleges and universities. The second examined the information and computer technology needs of postsecondary students with disabilities and how adequately these were being met both on and off-campus. CD-ROM tutorials used in class or labs and live online voice-based chat were identified as the least accessible forms of eLearning by students who were totally blind and those who had low vision, respectively. Training on the use of computer technologies provided at school was identified as inadequate by students who are totally blind. Other areas, such as the extent to which the technology is up-to-date and technical support adequacy were seen as only somewhat or moderately meeting needs of both groups.
Bishop, D., & Rhind, D. J. A. (2011, September). Barriers and enablers for visually impaired students at a UK higher education institution. British Journal of Visual Impairment, 29(3), 177-195.

The present study explored the factors which represent barriers and enablers to participation in Higher Education for students who are visually impaired. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with nine visually impaired students who were studying at a Higher Education Institution in the United Kingdom. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis revealed four higher-order themes: the student’s attitude (i.e. self identity, positive aspects of being visually impaired, engagement with support), institutional provision (i.e. campus navigability, central services support, school-level support), external support (i.e. travelling to and from campus, external financial support) and others’ attitudes (i.e. parental attitudes, staff attitudes). These findings are discussed with reference to how institutions may enhance the experience of not only visually impaired, but all Higher Education students.
Chanock, K., Stevens, M., & Freeman, S. (2011). A "visible" woman: Learning with a student who is deaf-blind at university. Review of Disability Studies: An International Journal, 7(2), 48-57. 

This article presents a case study of an undergraduate student with Deaf-blindness working with an interpreter and an academic skills adviser to develop her writing for the disciplines. It highlights the mutual learning this involves: about strategies for communication, issues of inclusion, and perspectives on disability.
Dermody, K., & Ms. Norda Majekodunmi, N. (2011). On-line databases and the research experience for university students with print disabilities. Library Hi Tech, 29(1), 149-160.

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to present findings of a study which examined the searching experience of university students with a print disability and their use of screen reading software to navigate three proprietary databases.

Design/methodology/approach: Participants completed a series of tasks in three different online databases using their screen reading software. Screen recording software provided video and audio documentation of the process. Survey data was collected pre and post study as well as after each database search session.

Findings: The paper provides insights on the information seeking behaviour of students with print disabilities as well as the barriers encountered while navigating online databases using screen reading software.

Research limitations/implications: The study focuses only on a small sample of university students with print disabilities and therefore lacks a control group of non-print disabled students against which the results could be measured.

Practical implications: Database vendors are aware of the barriers their databases pose for users of screen readers. It is in the best interest of vendors to assist libraries in promoting the accessible features that already exist in their databases. Libraries can assist students by providing database instruction tailored to users of screen readers and by assisting database vendors in usability feedback and in marketing options.

Originality/value: Participants consisted of students with learning, visual and mobility disabilities and who were native users of screen reading software. There is a lack of research on the intersection of databases design and its impacts on the information literacy skills of students with print disabilities. This paper provides some insights on the first step in the information seeking process (gathering information) by students with a print disability and the barriers encountered.
Enjelvin, G. D. (2009, August). Teaching French to a non-sighted undergraduate: Adjusting practices to deliver inclusive education. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 33(3), 265-279.

This article sets out to illustrate the needs of a registered blind undergraduate student embarking upon a post-A-level French course at the University of Northampton. It also reflects upon (1) some of the challenges faced by the higher education (HE) tutors concerned and (2) the key adjustments put into place with a view to adopting differentiation strategies and creating a supportive, enabling, and inclusive teaching/learning (T/L) environment whilst maintaining academic standards. Because language students' exposure to the written word is deemed essential to the development of their accuracy, many effective traditional 'sighted' activities are generally used to that effect. This article outlines the alternative tasks that had to be designed, some with a user-friendly handheld electronic voting system named Qwizdom, others with WimbaCreate, a Microsoft Word add-on for converting Word documents into accessible web pages. Last but not least, this article also provides suggestions for future, anticipatory adjustments to teaching strategies and (T/L as well as assessment) materials in line with the lessons learnt from the last two academic years.
Harpur, P., & Loudoun, R. (2011). The barrier of the written word: Analysing universities' policies to students with print disabilities. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 33(2), 153-167.

One of the biggest challenges confronting university students with print disabilities, such as blindness, is accessing the written word. In the past it was necessary to read text books onto cassette tape or turn them to Braille so these students could access the text books. Technological advances are making university life increasingly accessible for students with print disabilities. Using a combination of survey data and policy searches, the paper examines whether Australian universities are enabling students with print disabilities to take advantage of these technological advances. Results revealed that Australian universities are not ensuring that students with print disabilities have timely access to textbooks required for their university studies as a result of a combination of factors including inefficiencies caused by the statutory agency which regulates copyright, and by some universities having policies to provide minimal support to these students. These findings are discussed alongside a range of reforms which take into consideration publishers' copyright concerns, universities' cost limitations and the desire of students with print disabilities to gain access to textbooks.
Kajee, L. (2010, November). Disability, social inclusion and technological positioning in a South African higher education institution: Carmen's story. In R. J. Balfour (Ed.), Language Policy and Practice in South Africa, Part II [Feature Issue]. Language Learning Journal, 38(3), 379-392.

In South Africa, higher education policy documents propose technology and resource-based teaching and learning to prepare youth for the knowledge and information society, and for a socially transformed society. However, the extent to which these policies are being implemented is still uncertain. This article reports on a technology-based English course that incorporates face-to-face and online modes of delivery at a South African university. The aim of the paper is to examine how the only blind participant among a group of sighted participants positions herself and engages with the technological practices of the university, as well as the course, given the recommendations of the policies. Included is a discussion of how she constructs her identity and negotiates meaning in the course. The construction of identity is explored from a post-modern view that old identities, which stabilised the social world, are in decline, giving rise to new identities and fragmenting the modern individual as a unified subject. I explore views of identity as how people understand their relationship in the world, how that relationship is constructed across time and space, and how people understand their possibilities for the future. I also draw on discussions of positioning and self. Finally, I suggest implications that such a study might have for pedagogy, practice and policy in higher education institutions in South Africa.
Kim, D. S., Lee, H., & Skellenger, A. (2012, May). Comparison of levels of satisfaction with distance education and on-campus programs. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 106(5).

Introduction: The study compared the level of satisfaction of 101 graduates with a distance education versus an on-campus program.

Methods: A self-administered anonymous survey was used to gather information about satisfaction from the recent graduates of a university personnel preparation program in visual impairments (response rate = 57.7%). The survey measured graduates' satisfaction with their programs in six subareas: (1) faculty-student interaction, (2) student-student interaction, (3) fairness of evaluations, (4) organization of courses, (5) adequacy of the difficulty of courses, and (6) practicum or internship experience.

Results: The program modality was not a significant predictor of overall satisfaction with a program once we controlled for the confounding variables, including age, program area, and presence of visual impairments (-.277 – .226, 95% CI). However, it was a significant independent predictor of faculty-student interaction (-.616 – -.012, 95% CI) and student-student interaction (-.875 – -.073, 95% CI).

Discussion: There was no significant difference in the two groups of graduates' overall satisfaction with the program, but although the findings are preliminary in nature, the graduates from the on-campus program indicated a higher level of faculty-student and student-student interactions. Implications for practitioners: Given the findings of this study, prospective students who are interested in university personnel preparation programs in visual impairments may consider distance education programs an option that may satisfy them. Similarly, these programs may consider continuing their distance education programs as a satisfactory option for many students. However, the lower level of faculty-student and student-student interactions perceived by the distance education graduates may suggest a need to ensure a mechanism that facilitates such interactions more effectively.
Klinkosz, W., Sekowski, A., & Brambring, M. (2006, November). Academic achievement and personality in university students who are visually impaired. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 100(11), 666-675.

This study compared academic achievement by sighted versus visually impaired students at Polish universities and analyzed potential between-group differences on various personality traits and their impact on academic grades. Although there was no main effect of visual status on academic achievement, there were some significant differences between the personality traits of the visually impaired and sighted groups.
Leibs, A. (2006, Spring). Connect & conquer: Why teachers should help disabled students connect with resources. Disability Studies Quarterly, 26(2). Retrieved from: http://www.dsq-sds.org/article/view/699/876.

“As a blind writer and sometime student of human potential, I think there is no greater gift teachers can give disabled students than to encourage and help facilitate their taking ownership of crucial educational resources that exist just for them.

Too often in special education, teachers, administrators, and even state education department personnel procure materials for students, without ever training the students to cultivate their own relationships with institutions. A great opportunity exists for providers of pre-service training for special education teachers: helping students take responsibility for their resources can increase academic performance, sense of independence, and self-esteem while making the day-to-day management of classroom participation more efficient for teachers.

I will illustrate how this approach might make a difference in one key area, that of reading, among students who are blind or visually impaired. It seems clear that the concept can also apply to other cognitive skills and among students with other types of impairments.

I wrote my book, A Field Guide for the Sight-Impaired Reader (Liebs, 1999) after realizing I had spent years cultivating resources and developing reading strategies that could be taught to a visually impaired student in an hour or two.

All the resources I needed to excel in school existed, but my Individual Education Plan focused on Braille and typing, the primary skills of the two teachers assigned to me. They brought me tapes from Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D), but lied to me about my ability to acquire the tapes on my own, in part to keep me from dropping their classes.

Learning how RFB&D memberships work, which for me happened by accident the summer before I began college, launched my world of reading, motivated me to track down all essential resources, and stimulated me to revisit my education to see how others could benefit. What I concluded boils down to four basic steps: connecting to resources, creating context among them, building confidence, and, eventually, gaining control of one's reading life.”
McDonnall, M. C. (2010, May). The employment and postsecondary educational status of transition-age youths with visual impairments. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 104(5), 298-303.

The subpopulation of youths with visual impairments who do not attend postsecondary school may be most in need of extensive transition services to assist them in moving to adult roles in the community. Because so many youths with visual impairments attend postsecondary school, die majority of transition services seem to focus on them.
Myers, K. A., & Bastian, J. J. (2010, May-June). Understanding communication preferences of college students with visual disabilities. Journal of College Student Development, 51(3), 265-278.

Increased enrollment of college students with disabilities raises concerns regarding appropriate communication. Faculty and administrators' lack of knowledge, false assumptions, and fear of the unknown may lead to an inequitable educational experience for students with visual disabilities. The purpose of this qualitative study was to determine the preferences in communication styles and techniques of students with visual disabilities in their interactions with others within the higher education setting. The results of 35 interviews indicated respect for others, comfort during interactions, and awareness of disability issues are key factors leading to effective communication between persons with and without visual disabilities.
Pacheco, E. (2011). Transition to tertiary education and visual impairment: The role of online CoPs [Paper 147]. In P. B. Seddon & S. Gregor, Program Co-chairs, The Pacific Asia Conference on Information Systems (PACIS) 2011 Proceedings. Brisbane, Australia: Queensland University of Technology. Retrieved from http://aisel.aisnet.org/pacis2011/147.

This research-in-progress paper presents an outline of my research project. The purpose of the research project is to understand and explain how the process of transition to tertiary education among visually impaired students in New Zealand can be supported through the use of online communities of practice (online CoPs). A qualitative research has been chosen as the most suitable approach to examine the perspectives and needs of this group of students. Additionally to its empirical contribution, this research project will contribute theoretical knowledge to the scholarly community. I propose a model that is compounded by activity theory, the theory of student departure and factors affecting visually impaired students’ transition.
Schneider, K. (2005). Disability and academe: Views from both sides of the teacher’s desk. Review of Disability Studies: An International Journal, 1(4), 53-55.

Personal history of going through higher education as a blind person and a thirty year career of teaching, counseling, supervising and administrating is used to illustrate changes and constants in the ways academe deals with a disability.
Scherer, H. L., Snyder, J. A, & Fisher, B. S. (2010, November 17). Victimization risk among a national sample of disabled and deaf college students. Paper presented at the ASC Annual Meeting, San Francisco Marriott, San Francisco, California. Retrieved from http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p431569_index.html.

Recent estimates from the 2007 National Crime Victimization Survey demonstrate that individuals with physical and cognitive disabilities experience a significantly higher risk of violent and sexual victimization than those without disabilities. Although these findings are important for establishing that disabled individuals are more likely to be victimized, they do not shed light on the specific lifestyle and routine activities of disabled victims that may influence their risk of victimization. Using data from the 2008 American College Health Association’s (ACHA) National College Health Assessment II (NCHA-II), we apply the lifestyle-routine activities theory to subsamples of hearing impaired, physically disabled, and visually impaired students to determine what lifestyle factors influence their risk of victimization for violent and sexual offenses. The ACHA-NCHA-II is a large-scale survey administered to college students (N=26,685) in the US that includes specific and direct measures of lifestyle and routine activities. We hypothesize that differences in risk of victimization among physically disabled and hearing and visually impaired students can be attributed to variations in lifestyle and routine activities. Additionally, we predict that while controlling for lifestyle characteristics, disabled and impaired students will be more likely to be victimized than those without disabilities due to their heightened vulnerabilities.
Xiaomei, Z., Zhen, L., Gang, Z., & Yi., S. (2012, November 1-3). Construction of teaching aids network system for higher education of people with visual impairment. In H. Zhu, K. Eguchi, & J. Wu (Eds.), 2012 Fifth International Conference on Intelligent Networks and Intelligent Systems (ICINIS), Tianjin, China (pp. 344-347). Retrieved from: http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/mostRecentIssue.jsp?punumber=6376343.  

With the popularity of higher education, more and more people with visual impairment receiving higher education. Education is precondition for the people with disabilities to realize "equality participation share", which shows important contents of education equity. This paper studied the current situation and issues for higher education of people with visual impairment in China, Construction of teaching aids network system for higher education of people with visual impairment, promote the informatization development of higher special education.