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EDUCATION REPORT - For Blind Students, College Means Learning to Help Themselves

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I'm Gwen Outen with the VOA Special English Education Report.

We continue our reports for students around the world who want to attend college in the United States. This week, we answer a question from Pakistan. Sajid Iqbal wants to know if any American colleges or universities accept blind students or those with vision problems. He also wants to know if any financial aid is provided.

The World Health Organization says almost forty million people around the world are blind. There are about one million blind people in the United States. The largest and most influential organization of blind people in this country is the National Federation of the Blind. N.F.B. officials say the nation does not have any colleges or universities that serve only blind students. They say the reason for this is that blind people must learn to live among people who can see.

American colleges and universities do accept blind and visually impaired students. And they provide services to help these students succeed. For example, colleges find people who write down what the professors say in class. And they provide technology that can help blind students with their work. However, experts say colleges can best help blind students by making it clear that the students should learn to help themselves.

Tim Cordes working in a University of Wisconsin-Madison laboratory.
Tim Cordes working in a University of Wisconsin-Madison laboratory.

One blind American student recently made news because he graduated from medical school at the University of Wisconsin. Tim Cordes (pronounced COR-diss) says technology was one of the reasons he succeeded. He used a computer that read into his earpiece what he was typing. He also used a small printer that permitted him to write notes about his patients in the hospital. He did his undergraduate work at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.

National Federation of the Blind officials say blind students from other nations do come to the United States to attend college. Some can even get financial aid. The N.F.B. awards about thirty scholarships each year that have no citizenship requirement. The applications for scholarships are closed for next year.

However, information about such aid and other services can be found at its web site, nfb.org. N.F.B. officials say blind students interested in attending college in the United States should communicate with the schools they want to attend. College officials will provide them with the information they need.

This VOA Special English Education Report was written by Nancy Steinbach. I'm Gwen Outen.

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