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PLSouthside Scroll

The Student News Site of Papillion-La Vista South High School

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PLSouthside Scroll

College search looks different for the blind

This upcoming fall, many seniors will be heading off to college – myself included. The difference is that I am almost completely blind, with 20/1600 vision and light-sensitivity. This resulted in my needing to take many more factors into consideration before I finally decided where I’d attend in the fall.

Arrival

Kerri Jones

Though I went on a few campus visits, in the end I decided to attend where I had my first: Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa. The drive to the college wasn’t bad, taking about three hours. As we got close to campus, I remember my mom listing off everything she saw around us. Most teens might get annoyed by this, but since I couldn’t see any of it, I greatly appreciated her narration, being able to paint a picture in my own mind of what the campus and surrounding area looked like. From where we parked, we had to walk for a few minutes to Mary Berry Hall, where we were given an itinerary that had our schedule for the day.

Food Services

We first had a meeting in the dining hall with food services so we’d know what to do about my allergies, since they include quite a few common ingredients: peanuts (severe), most tree nuts, dairy (severe), and eggs. For my severe allergies, I go into anaphylactic shock, which results in hives, respiratory issues, and my throat closing up. The plan we came up with was that I would be emailed the menu for each week prior to it being served and say what on the menu I could eat or to add something specifically for me, allergen-free.

Campus Tour

After dealing with food, we then had a campus tour given by a current student. During this, I was able to learn the layout of the campus for the first time and begin to get accustomed to walking around it – being able to notice certain things like how the pathway might change from pavement to brick tile depending on where we were on campus. I got a tour of most of the educational buildings along with some of the recreational ones, such as the fitness center, paid for by student fees. I also got a bit of insight on the student-run school magazine, which really intrigued me, because I didn’t know if I’d be able to continue journalism throughout college. We ended off our tour by going through the first-year residence halls and getting a sense of the dorm rooms.

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Conversation with Faculty

I then got the opportunity to meet with a professor. Her specialty was legal studies, one of the majors I was interested in, but when she heard of my interest in potentially majoring in communications after I’d begun working for the Titan Legacy, she actually suggested something that, while sounding slightly crazy at the time, I actually liked. She suggested that I double major in communications and social justice, seeing as all of my choices for majors revolved around helping people and I’ve really enjoyed journalism. She also explained to me how my first year on campus would play out if I decided to enroll.

Meeting Accommodations Director

Riley standing in front of Simpson College. (courtesy: Kerri Jones)

Next came arguably the most important part of my tour: We had a meeting with the accommodations director, during which we discussed what assistance the college would provide to enable me to fully engage in all aspects of college learning and life on campus. For classes, I would need to self-advocate and email professors beforehand to ensure every accommodation would be met for each class. We went over the accommodations currently set in my high school 504 plan so we knew roughly what to expect. For almost all of my current classes, I use my laptop with a built-in magnifier at the top of the screen, fully blown up to view my work. This isn’t the best feature, so I’m working with the Nebraska Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired to see if I can get a better magnifier software that also allows for a good screen reader as well. Other accommodations were discussed, but this was the biggest one. We even figured out what I might do in the event of ice or inclement weather where my path might be obstructed abnormally by objects I cannot see, and, in the case of housing, even having a laundry machine on my floor made accessible with tactile bump dot stickers.

Meeting Admissions Advisor

The final thing left on our itinerary was to meet with an admissions advisor. We went a bit more in depth on the majors I was considering, which, after meeting with that professor, I was now heavily interested in communications and social justice. We also discussed financial aid, during which I was informed that I would be awarded a $29,000 scholarship yearly. Cost of attendance was no longer too big of a concern for me, as the NCBVI had informed me that they cover their clients’ tuition up to University of Nebraska Lincoln’s rates, so I already wouldn’t have to pay too much for a full college education.

Leaving

Once my visit was over, my mom took the liberty of forcing me to pose for a few photos, so I had to stop using my cane in rolling mode on the flat floors I’m used to and tap it on the grass to some of the photo locations. She then drove us back home. I had time to think about my visit. After visiting more campuses, which didn’t fully suit my wants and even some of my needs, I finalized my decision to attend Simpson College in the fall.

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About the Contributor
Riley Tuzzio
Riley Tuzzio, Staff Reporter
I'm Riley Tuzzio. I'm a Senior and almost completely blind with 20/1600 vision. I am passionate about advocating for those with disabilities and impairments and just improving awareness and understanding of them. I still can enjoy some forms of media though mostly auditory focused and like to promote accessibility throughout the world.
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    Carmen SandellApr 16, 2024 at 12:08 pm

    Riley, it reads well the day of your tour. I am glad that you had such great tour of the many aspects you will encounter as you start your education at Simpson. I need to ask , is this a college for the unsighted ?? I also like what you have chosen for your field of study.
    .You do well in your command of words so I don’t think any problem there. I am just so happy for your decision and know you will do well, and you will make life long friends. Just be sure there is some fun time in your life— ok. Love you!!

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