For a long time, students who are blind or vision impaired are the lowest in number among the third level population.
This was never down to a lack of ability, but rather, a lack of books in accessible formats. However, the National Council for the Blind in Ireland (NCBI) have put forward resources to aid the academic acceleration for people who are blind or vision impaired.
One such resource is Bookshare.ie, which is Ireland’s largest digital accessible library specifically designed for students with print disabilities including visual impairments and dyslexia.
Bookshare contains over 500,000 academic articles and is free to join for eligible students. Bookshare allows you to browse and download titles from the largest collection of accessible education and leisure books in Ireland. The resource is completely customisable with an account, and allows you to read on smartphones, tablets, Chromebooks, computers, and assistive technologies devices.
Information on whether a student can qualify or not can be found here. The resource is "available to all people with print disabilities, including a visual impairment, learning difficulty (dyslexia) or a physical disability that limits a person from being able to read standard text."
Another of the NCBI's resources is the Gerard Byrne Bursary. The bursary is for two students with a vision impairment entering into or currently in full time third level education.
The annual bursary is awarded to the value of €1,500 per annum for up the duration of their undergraduate degree. Furthermore, and subject to the impact of Covid-19, NCBI may offer a 6-month internship to one bursary recipient annually, helping them to gain work experience to further prepare for employment.
Application forms for the Gerard Byrne Bursary can be found here.
Applications can be submitted via email to [email protected]. Applications close at 5pm on August 31st 2020.