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College support for blind or partially sighted students

Information on the support available to blind and partially sighted students at college

The support you receive at college will differ from the support you received at school. You may not see your Qualified Teacher for the Visually Impaired any longer and you will be taught by a new team of staff at the college.

Colleges get money from their funding body in order to provide reasonable adjustments and make sure you have the support you need. In colleges this is called Learning Support (LS). There is a variety of support and equipment that a college might offer and they will look at what works best for you. Some examples of support are:

  • a support teacher or worker, or a sighted guide
  • materials in alternative formats such as braille or large print
  • assistive computer technology, for example closed-circuit television
  • computers with speech synthesisers and magnification.

Assessment of your needs at college

College staff will liaise with you, your school and local authority to decide what support you will need on all aspects of your course. This includes lectures, classes, practicals, field trips, work experience placements, course assessments and exams.

Your local authority will ask your permission to share information about your future plans and support needs from your EHCP with college staff. You should be involved throughout and agree to the support plans before term starts.

Your course and the college will be different from school, and sometimes the support you need will also be different.

Ideally you need to know what support arrangements are to be made before your EHCP transition review, because as part of that you will need to tell them your preferred college course and which college you want to study at. After your transition EHCP review you will receive a copy of your draft EHCP. You will have 15 days to read it and respond. If you disagree with the draft EHCP you must write to the local authority to tell them why within 15 days.

You also have the right to specify the name of the specific school or college you wish to move to. Once you have agreed the draft EHCP the local authority will inform the school or college you want to move to. This should not come as a surprise to you, the provider or the local authority.

The new system to support disabled young people is designed to include your views throughout, to help you get the information you need to make choices about your future based on all the relevant facts.

However, if the local authority does not agree with your choice of college you have the right to mediation support and to take your case to the First Tier Tribunal.

Attend a “taster” session

The college environment is likely to be very different to the school environment you are used to so it may be worthwhile seeing if you can attend any 'taster days' in college to see if you like it and the course is right for you. Your teachers/QTVI may also be able to put you in touch with someone older than you who has been to the college and will be able to tell you about their experiences.

Funding support

Colleges receive funding in order to provide reasonable adjustments and make sure learners with a disability or impairment have the support they require. Find out more in our funding at college pages.

Technology support

You may not know much about the wide range of technology that’s on the market and, with technology advancing constantly, it can be hard to keep up. It might be a good idea to contact someone who can come and visit you to show you the latest products on the market. You may want to check out organisations such as Ability Net and Blind in Business, which offer advice to blind and partially sighted students moving into education or work including assessments, equipment supply, ICT training and employment services.

RNIB also has information on the latest technology. If you see something that you think might be useful at university, you can discuss this with the Disability Support Service and your DSA needs assessor, who may be able to include it in their list of recommendations to Student Finance England.