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Visual impairment

Field report by Kathrin (student at the University of Cologne)

Hi, I'm Kathrin and I study psychology at the University of Cologne.

I have a visual and physical disability. I'm not sure, but I think that most people notice my disabilities - at the latest when I walk into them.

In order to study I need a few aids: in subjects that are particularly difficult for me I have study assistants who accompany me and on my laptop I have magnifying software installed. The biggest help is my I-Phone. With it I can enlarge everything and have texts read aloud to me.

expand: Sehbeeintraechtigung

Dieses Bild ist urheberrechtlich geschützt.

Learning in lectures is difficult for me because I cannot recognize the slides. Even if they are uploaded before, I am not able to listen and read the slides at the same time. Therefore I have to work a lot on my own. For me it is perfect when lectures are recorded and made available online. Then I can set the pace myself and have time to read the slides to myself in between.

A problem is also the texts that are set to Iliad by the lecturers. Most of them have been scanned and are therefore not recognized as texts by my devices. However, as my eyesight is too low to read by myself, I am dependent on text formats that are compatible with my reading software. I can get most of the texts, but this takes a lot of time, so I rarely finish reading in time.

My handicap is also a barrier to my fellow students. There are many of us, which often leads to difficulties. For example, if I talk to someone, I don't recognize him/her the next day. I also don't notice when someone smiles or waves to me. I think some people think I am rude because of this. It helps when people speak to me directly.

During my studies I have developed a great deal of stamina and also a certain tolerance for frustration. But the circle of friends that I have built up independently of the university in Cologne helps me the most. Through my experiences I have developed a lot of empathy and a great serenity as well as the ability to laugh about myself.

My disability has a strong influence on my everyday life. Nevertheless, it is important to me not to be reduced to it. When I get to know people, it is therefore important for me to make it clear to them that I am like them. I have dreams, fears and interests like everyone else and I want to be perceived as such.

In numbers...
2.5% of the students surveyed in the best2 study in Germany (n = 20,897) state that they are most severely limited by visual impairment. 10% of them state that they are blind. The special evaluation of the University of Cologne on the best2 study speaks of 2.5% of those surveyed (n = 952 only UzK) for whom visual impairment has the greatest impact on their studies (NRW = 2.9% with n= 5,436).

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