Nicki told us,
“I was born blind and have used RNIB services since I was a child, like Talking Books. I enjoy psychological thrillers, non-fiction, travel books and quizzes too. Now that I’m at university, I read a lot of books through RNIB Bookshare, which has been invaluable.
Journey through higher education
Nicki's first degree was in Broadcast Journalism, which she said that she really liked, but unfortunately it didn’t lead to a job. She went on to do some volunteering and really enjoyed helping people who were going through different issues. She then went on to apply for a 10-week counselling course, which she said that she found fascinating.
I’m now in my second year of a Counselling and Psychotherapy Postgraduate course at the University of South Wales. My experience of doing a Broadcast Journalism degree has helped me to be curious and ask questions - that's given me transferable skills to use in my current course, so although it didn’t lead to a job no learning is wasted.
Experiencing higher education as a blind person
I was very lucky when I did my Broadcast Journalism degree, as the tutors worked with me to ensure that I could do the course and got everything put into Braille beforehand. But at my current university, they’ve never had a blind person on the course before, so they do need to be pushed, and I've had to ask for support at times.
The Disability Unit is fantastic and I have an amazing Notetaker, which helps. Being at university is quite social too, it’s really nice to sit and have lunch together with other students and have a chat. We’ve been doing the course online since September because of the pandemic, and this has really helped me to embrace new technology.
RNIB Bookshare makes study easy
The university gave me a membership to RNIB Bookshare, which is so helpful, as it has loads of books. This really helps with my essays, because with my course things are constantly changing, but I know that all the recent editions are available on RNIB Bookshare. It makes everything so much easier, because I can download texts onto my Notetaker, instead of carrying around bulky Braille books.
Tips on going into higher education
Speak to other students and find out what the course entails, so that you can make up your own mind about what things might help you.
Tell the university what you need that fits your specific circumstances and be assertive, so that you are in the best position to do your course.
If your university has a disability unit, speak to them, as they will understand.
I think it’s just about educating people, letting them know that the only reason you can’t do something is if a block is put your way - and that you’re capable, so long as you have the right support.